During their regular meeting Tuesday, commissioners met with members of the proposed water district's steering committee to discuss the upcoming vote to form the district at the April 5 election and reviewed a flyer outlining the benefits and cost for the rural water district.
Commissioner Jamie Burger said there may never be a more affordable opportunity to establish a water district in the county. Residents should not only consider the benefits for themselves but for their children and grandchildren as well. "That's something we can leave them," he said.
Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel advised steering committee members not to wait too long to begin gathering support for the water district's approval. "March gets away pretty quick," he said.
Burger said at least one commissioner will be available for each of the meetings steering committee members plan to hold to inform voters and build support for the water district's formation.
While the district has had a lot of interest so far, "we just want to keep it moving," Burger said. "People have got a lot of questions."
"We also need to get the word out - it's not going to be on taxes," Priggel said. If approved, the project would be funded entirely by revenue bonds which would be paid off with water user fees.
Approving the district's formation will not cost anyone who is not a customer any money. "If they don't want it, don't want to pay - don't hook up," said John Chittenden of Waters Engineering in Sikeston, engineer for the project.
The average monthly water bill for those who do hook up should be around $40.50 if 80 percent of potential customers sign up for the service, according to Chittenden. If only 60 percent sign up, the cost per user would rise to about $47.
"I've had a few of them ask, 'What's in it for me,'" said Dennis Meier, steering committee member. His answer: "Good water."
For those who sign up and pay the $150 hookup fee in advance, "all the hookups are in the budget," said Chittenden, "all the way to the house." He said that applies even if the home sits far away from the property line.
Steering committee members are hoping sign up fees will generate enough revenue to cover the election costs. "We've got $500 left," reported Phil Lyon, treasurer and secretary for the steering committee. "We've spent under $1,000."
County Clerk Rita Milam said the water district's share of the April election costs is estimated by formulas to be $3,500. "Every entity is a different amount," she said. "There's quite a bit on the ballot this time because of city races and school board elections."
If the cost of the election ends up being more than the estimate, a letter is sent asking for the balance, and if the cost ends up being less a check is sent, Milam said.
A bond issue for the water district should be placed on the ballot for the August election if the district's formation is approved April 5.
Chittenden said he has a "FAQ" document assembled to answer the frequently asked questions about water districts. Most people are interested in "point of service type things," Chittenden said, with residents typically interested in knowing "How is it going to change my life?"
In other Scott County news:
* The county has started its search for applicants to fill a new position, county developer.
The job will include writing grants, maintaining the county's Web site and geographic information system, and may include issuing flood plain permits as well, according to commissioners.
* Commissioners appointed Bob Depro of Sikeston to represent the county for a three-year term on the Delta Area Economic Development Corporation board. Depro replaces Michael Harris of Sikeston.
* Officials are seeking a replacement for Joe Evans on the Riverside Regional Library Board. Evans resigned from the position.