Residents want relief from high water

By Terri Ferguson Smith -

MAXTON — High water bills have some people who live near Maxton thirsty for relief.

Janice Williams lives at Maxton Village, an 18-unit apartment complex outside the town of Maxton on Charlie Watts Road. To save money on water bills, she and her neighbors plan to present a letter to the Maxton Board of Commissioners asking it to allow them to pay the same water rates as some neighbors who do not live inside a municipality.

Williams is the apartment manager and lives alone, and she says her water bill runs from $55 to $75 each month.

The apartment complex is about 20 years old, she said.

“I have people on this same road here past my complex — they’re on county water and the people below me are on county water,” Williams said. “I don’t think it’s fair. Other people on this road pay for county water and we pay for city water.”

One neighbor outside the apartment complex told Williams that her water bill averages $25 per month.

Maxton Mayor Chip Morton said while he was unaware of this specific case, the issue of Maxton’s water service supplying some out-of-city residents has been ongoing for a long time, prior to Morton’s time on the town board, which started in 1993.

The reason non-city water customers pay more than city water customers is because they are not paying city property taxes, Morton said.

“If you live outside the city limits the water bill is twice what it is within the city limits because you don’t pay taxes,” Morton said, referring to city property taxes that help pay for maintenance of water and sewer lines.

That has been a long-standing policy, Morton said.

In-city residents of Maxton pay $16.16 base rate for up to 2,500 gallons and $1.93 for each additional 1,000 gallons used.

Out-of-city residents on Maxton’s water system pay $32.30 for up to 2,500 gallons and $3.87 for each additional 1,000 gallons used.

County residents on the county’s water system pay $16 for the first 2,000 gallons used,and $4.75 per additional 1,000 gallons used. The scale drops slightly from there for each additional 2,000 gallons used.

Whether Robeson County would at some point take over the apartment complex’s water system would be a decision of the Robeson County Board of Commissioners, according to County Manger Ricky Harris. Harris said the county would not likely take over a water system without a request from the city and even then, there are other factors to consider.

“We haven’t had anybody contact us or turn in a petition. We would look at the value of it; how far away they are from city lines, how many homes are on it,” Harris said.

The county would also have to consider whether taking in the system would be economical or whether the request was because of concerns about water quality.

Harris cautioned that sometimes people don’t realize what they are paying for.

“The cities do water and sewer but the county just does water. The county doesn’t do any sewer system,” Harris said. “We wouldn’t have the capability of giving them sewer and water.”

Maxton provides water, sewer and garbage pickup to some out-of-city users.

By Terri Ferguson Smith

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.

Reach Terri Ferguson Smith at 910-416-5865.

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