Another deadline has passed and still no agreement has been reached to bring water flowing through Decatur County Rural Water’s pipes to new customers in Zone 5 - Adams. However, officials say the negotiation process has not been tanked.

At last week’s meeting DCRW Board reps Ersel Rogers and Joseph Moorman, along with their attorney John Watson, presented the city with a proposal to “commit to have a contract in place” by Monday. That proposal, signed by the DCRW reps, went unsigned by Mayor Frank Manus. For Manus and city attorney Steve Taylor the proposal was not adequate.

“My attorney said there was no way we were signing. It’s an open ended contract. It has no meaning,” Manus said.

The proposal obtained by the Greensburg Daily News was worded as follows:

“Decatur County Rural Water has an installed pipe in the Zone 5/Adams area sufficient to serve residents in that area who are currently in need of water. Greensburg has stated that it has sufficient water on hand to serve residents in the area in need of water. Decatur County Rural Water commits to immediately connecting all such residents in that area to its pipe and transmission system if Greensburg will commit to provide the water necessary to serve the residents. Decatur County Rural Water and Greensburg agree that long term service issues in these areas will be resolved at a later date as a part of the negotiations ongoing between the two parties. Decatur County Rural Water and Greensburg commit to have a contract in place to serve these residents by Monday, January 15th, 2007.”

Taylor stated he advised against signing because this contract was insufficient and did not address issues they had discussed at previous negotiations.

“There weren’t any amounts stated, no quantity requirements and no mention of jurisdictional issues,” Taylor said.

Rogers said the proposal was meant to get things moving and getting exact figures and requirement quantities will take time.

“We know it takes time to get those numbers, but we have people ready to move into those houses,” Rogers said. “(The proposal) is not exceeding any volume; it just gives us the ability to put the water meters in.”

Manus, Taylor and Rogers said the two parties are still negotiating “in good faith,” and they hope to reach a sufficient agreement sometime soon.

Manus, however, thinks DCRW needs to compromise.

“They won’t give anything. We need elbow room to grow,” the Mayor stated. “We’ve got to be able to service the areas we annex. They’re Rural Water. They should concentrate on rural, not the city of Greensburg.”

Rogers stated there were definitely a number of issues to be resolved, but he had the interests of the people in Zone 5 at the forefront.

“We’re all for getting water to these people. We’re not holding this thing up. We’re just waiting for the city to release it,” Rogers said.

Manus and Taylor also are concerned for those citizens, but Taylor noted the future of the city must take precedence.

“This has nothing with us trying to keep customers without water. We’re not trying to keep Rural Water from getting water,” Taylor said. “The city is trying to protect its current and future residents and keep the rates as low as possible.”

Zone 5 was annexed into the city of Greensburg in 1997, and Manus feels the city should be allowed to benefit from the economic boom predicted in the area.

“(DCRW) wants to capitalize on the growth. Normally, they have one to two customers per mile. This is 80 feet between customers,” he said.

Both companies charge tap-on and sewer fees for new customers. The difference, Manus said, is the city uses those fees to improve its water plant, which will need a major overhaul in the coming years. DCRW does not have a plant as it gets all of its water from Greensburg. DCRW is a not-for-prot corporation, and the Mayor feels the unwillingness to budge is hurting the city and its citizens.

“They want to be piggish. They want it all. Consequently, people get hurt,” Manus said. “On their map, everything beyond the city is theirs. I don’t think they intended to be that ridiculous but it looks that way.”

Rogers said they have been willing to provide financial assistance to the city through tap-on and other fees. However, he felt the city had not been as open to providing water as has frequently been stated.

“We keep hearing these comments made by the Mayor and City Council that they are willing to do anything to give these people the water, but they won’t. We’re not the ones holding this thing up. They seem to want to put the blame on us. They say we’re not upholding our part but we’re trying,” Rogers said. “They say they have a lot of water, well then, let’s distribute a little bit of it.”

The Mayor said despite the bickering he felt the situation would see an end soon.

“It’s a very unfortunate situation,” Manus said. “It will be resolved, but I have to listen to my attorney. I can’t sign anything on emotion. That’s just not smart.”

Additional information was gathered by Jim Cummings

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