Update for Midland Valley Monthly Paper

Since my last column in this paper last month, a lot has happened in our district during the month of July. The purpose of this column is to keep you informed about what is going on at your State House and around out district.

First, as to the Avondale Water System servicing both Graniteville and Vaucluse, Avondale’s new water and sewer rates went into effect in July. Apparently, no residents were aware that the increase had gone into effect because Avondale did not mail notice of the new rates until the new bills at the new rates went out to residents. Under the new rate structure, a customer receiving 5,000 gallons of water and sewer service a month will pay $69.00 on the Avondale system. A customer using the same amount of water and sewer will pay $39.40 on the Valley Public Service Authority system. Under the old Avondale rate structure, a customer using 5,000 gallons of water and sewer paid about $12.00 per month. Many residents received bills exceeding $150.00 for the month of July and some bills exceeded $600.00.

To address the above with the Public Service Commission (PSC), Senator Massey, Representative Roland Smith and I wrote the PSC and requested that it amend its June Order to require that the residents be given thirty (30) days written notice before the new rate increase goes into effect. Additionally, we have asked the PSC to amend its June Order in view of the economic ability of the residents to pay the currently approved new rate structure. We think that the new rates are unreasonable in view of the bills that we are hearing about from folks in the community.

For the past eleven months, I have worked with other members of the legislative delegation, county officials, and others to find a buyer for the Avondale system. Our hope was to secure a buyer before the Avondale rate increase went into effect. Unfortunately, that has not happened but it was not for a lack of effort. Many people have put in long hours trying to find a buyer which can qualify for federal assistance and which is willing to accept ownership of the system in its current condition. Estimates for improving the system exceed eleven million dollars. Senator Massey, Rep. Smith, and I secured six million dollars in federal stimulus funding from DHEC to be used for improvements in the water and sewer system. This is the most money allocated to any system in our state with federal stimulus dollars. We are working real hard to foster an agreement for Valley Public Service Authority to purchase the Avondale system. As of August 3, negotiations are ongoing and no final agreement has been reached.

Second, as to jobs for the community, we all hoped to land Carbon Motors to a site at the Sage Mill Industrial park. Such an investment would have meant close to 2,000 jobs for the area in the long term. However, we learned in late July that Carbon Motors chose a site in Indiana over the site here in Aiken County. While we are disappointed, we cannot be discouraged and we will continue to look for companies to invest in our area and our citizens.

Third, as to Governor Sanford. Since last month’s column, the Governor revealed more about his relationship with his mistress. He has spent a large part of the month of July and early August working on his relationship with his wife and children. A Senate subcommittee currently is expected to look into several questions about the Governor and his expenses while on State business. My understanding is that SLED has chosen not to expand its investigation of late June and the Attorney General will not investigate nor appoint a special prosecutor. As a state, we need for the questions that still exist to be answered and to put this situation behind us before the General Assembly reconvenes in January 2010. If we do not, then the Governor and his problems will distract the Legislature from the important issues of our day including job growth, education, and tax reform.

Finally, the Governor signed the Tax Realignment Commission legislation. That group is beginning its work and will have a report of its recommendations to the General Assembly by March 15, 2010.

Please know that I am always available to you and your family should you ever need assistance. I will do my best to listen to you; to help with your constituent concerns; and to be responsive to your requests. I can be reached by telephone (649-0000 or 215-3631); email (TomYoung@schouse.org); regular mail (P.O. Box 651, Aiken, SC 29802); or just pull me aside when you see me.

If you would like for me to speak to your church or other civic group about pending legislation or other concerns to you, please let me know. Please see my website – www.reptomyoung.com – for updates about what is going on at the State House and in our district.

Thank you for the privilege and the opportunity to represent you. I am determined to work on your behalf to make our State Government more efficient; effective; and accountable.

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