Tega Cay mayoral candidates differ on ideas to buy out failing sewer system

Posted October 23, 2013 9:09 pm | Filed under Featured, Local News

For most of us — what a toilet is flushed or a sink is drained, we think very little about what happens after that water flows away.

But for residents in Tega Cay, that’s been game of Russian Roulette for the last decade, where more-often-than-not the result is raw sewage spilling out of underground pipes and into Lake Wylie Coves.

Tega Cay’s incumbent mayor, George Sheppard, and challengers Ron Kirby and Larry Pritchard addressed the issue head-on before a municipal forum at the Glennon Center Wednesday night.

Sheppard, whose first term as mayor expires in January, says he supports a recently revived plan to purchase the sewer system from Utilities, Inc. — but only if it makes financial sense.

“It would be something I would support as long as the economics also support it,” Sheppard said. “If it places too much of a burden on the city, I would support it.”

While Kirby, a political newcomer, says buying out the Utilities, Inc. system is the only way to resolve residents’ long-chronicled issues with wastewater.

“They [Utilities, Inc.] have nowhere to grow — we do,” Kirby said. “It’s got to happen.”

And the second challenger for the mayor’s office, Larry Pritchard, cast doubt Wednesday on the likelihood of the city purchasing the sewer system.

“Three times in the last twelve years, the city has gone down the path of buying the system,” Pritchard said. “And every time we did the due diligence, it came out as cost-prohibitive.”

Kirby says over the years, the sale of the system has been halted due to lack of agreement on a sale price and a way to finance the plan. The last attempt to purchase the system didn’t end well, either.

“We got really close,” Kirby said. “I still think it could have happened [the third time].”

Sheppard works as an account representative for International Paper, selling paper in bulk to publishers across the globe. Pritchard is a retired Information Technology Executive. Kirby is now retired from the automobile business.

All three men will appear on the November 5 ballot.