Company seeks repeal of sewer ordinance
FAYETTEVILLE — Owners of a company overseeing decentralized sewer systems want justices of the peace to repeal an ordinance regulating the systems.
Tom and Kathy Bartlett, who oversee three systems in Washington County, told the County Services Committee on Monday their company is the only one complying with the county’s regulations. Other companies haven’t complied and haven’t paid the $2 per household fee required, Tom Bartlett said.
County Attorney Brian Lester said he’s investigating and plans to present justices of the peace with a report next month, he said. The Bartletts appear to be the only operators complying, he said.
Community sewer systems serve hundreds of homes via a system similar to a small wastewater treatment plant on location. Officials said last year about 12 systems operated in the county.
The ordinance — a response to a community sewer system that failed near Prairie Grove and Farmington — was
approved in April.
Lester said he didn’t know why the ordinance wasn’t enforced.
Renee Biby, the previous grants administrator and public utilities coordinator, wasn’t rehired by County Judge Joseph Wood in December. Biby is among four department heads not rehired by Wood.
Wood replaced Biby with former Justice of the Peace Sharon Lloyd, a Republican, without advertising the job.
Previously, Biby had said the entities running sewer systems need oversight. Last year, Biby hired a person to oversee the community sewer systems, but the employee wasn’t trained, Lester said.
The position was supposed to be covered, at least partly, by a $2 fee per month per home on a community sewer system, Lester said.
Documents presented to justices of the peace last year showed the fee was expected to bring in about $21,000 — more if cities agreed to county oversight. Lester said he plans to investigate how much the fee would raise.
The Bartletts listed several reasons to repeal the ordinance: State agencies already regulate the systems, property owners’ associations struggle to get required letters of credit and the fee doesn’t generate as much revenue as expected.
Lester said other questions about the ordinance include what penalties exist for those who don’t follow the rules. The Quorum Court still could fine someone not complying, but it would be easier to have penalties already in the ordinance so each infraction didn’t need to come before the court, he said.
Several justices of the peace said they want to fix the ordinance, not repeal it.
“I’m more interested in having full enforcement,” said Justice of the Peace Eva Madison, a Democrat representing northeastern Fayetteville. “I appreciate there are concerns, but I don’t know that I would be thinking about repeal just yet.”