Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times The Macon County Commission voted to send Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver's cost-sharing proposal on water line installations along for further discussion at its meeting Monday, pending review from county and city attorneys.  Pictured: Commissioner Kyle Petty (at left), Commissioner Chad West.

Ethan Steinquest/Macon County Times

The Macon County Commission voted to send Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver's cost-sharing proposal on water line installations along for further discussion at its meeting Monday, pending review from county and city attorneys.

Pictured: Commissioner Kyle Petty (at left), Commissioner Chad West.

The Macon County Commission approved a draft by Lafayette Mayor Richard Driver that would set a formal policy on waterline installations at its meeting on Monday evening.

Under the plan, the city of Lafayette and Macon County would each pay 30% of the cost on an installation, while landowners would pay 40%.

"One thing we want to make sure of is that this policy does not apply to new subdivisions," Driver said. "Also, if a subdivision is going to be extended, this policy does not apply to that."

Driver added that the 30-percent shares paid by the city and county would be the maximum amount, while the 40-percent share paid by landowners would be a minimum.

"Just in case we have a landowner say they'll fund 50% of it, then, the city and county will only have to worry about 50%," Driver said. "We want to make it clear that, in certain instances, that will happen. It's a job in progress, and we are looking at making some changes on it."

County attorney Guy Holliman and city attorney James White, Jr., are both reviewing the policy in order to recommend any adjustments.

"To me, 30% for the city, 30% for the county and 40% for the residents doesn't really seem fair," commissioner Chad West said. "For the residents to pay more ... I think, if it was split evenly three ways, it would look better."

Driver said the 30-percent figure is meant to allow a 15-year payback period on water lines, a period he was recommended through an engineering consultation and noted that water lines would increase residents' property values.

Holliman predicted that Driver's proposal could also encourage the state to invest more Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funding into county water lines.

"With CDBGs ... a lot of those are based on eligibility," Holliman said. "In part, that means looking at the resources along those areas where we're trying to put (water lines) ... if we have areas where the landowners have lesser abilities to pay for the water lines, we've got a good chance of getting our CBDG grants for them at essentially no cost."

Lafayette has previously extended water access through CDBG funds, but more recent applications have been denied, due in part to the short distance between existing lines.

"When I was on the council, we had started talking about bridging gaps," commissioner Marcus Smith said. "We had done all the CDBGs we could and had these mile or two-mile lines. We'd talked about basically getting into our back pocket to bridge those gaps."

Driver said he believes that his proposal will help the city in closing those gaps and acquiring more grant funding.

"If we could find a section here about a mile long and have the people who can afford ... pay for (their portion of) that little mile to extend it up, that would make it more economical for us and basically make these grants easier to obtain to reach these other houses with the CDBGs," Driver said.

According to Smith, the Lafayette City Council had discussed entirely funding those costs at the time he left his position.

"Now, we're talking about putting 40% of that on the one or two people down that mile," Smith said. "That's where the heartburn's coming in, I think, from our perspective. What I would like to see is true needs where the city could just say we're going to bridge this mile gap to get to another CDBG, because that's doing nothing but adding 10-15 taps and more water you're profiting from that the county's not."

Driver said that Lafayette's water department currently has an estimated $1 million in its checking account, with an additional $5-6 million budgeted for upcoming projects.

"Our biggest concern is water," he said. "We're now looking at expanding our water treatment plant, getting another water source, and we're going to need that money to help do that. It's not money that we're just putting aside."

The commission also approved to allow the Macon County Highway Department to stockpile gravel on a county property that was previously purchased with the intent to build a convenience site.

"This has nothing to do with the convenience site," Macon County Mayor Steve Jones said. "They closed the road out there going toward the crusher and (Macon County Road Supervisor Audie Cook) has been having to get it out of Cross Plains. It's cheaper, like he does in Red Boiling Springs, to drop it off on that side of the county rather than to haul it over here and back."

The convenience-site project was scuttled after cost estimates came back higher than expected, but the county hopes to later revisit the build.

The Macon County Commission's next meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 3 in the Macon County Court House.