Majority rules: Ellendale-area voters reject county’s public water system proposal

 

ELLENDALE – Majority rules and water in the Ellendale area will continue to come from private wells.

For the second time in approximately eight years, Ellendale-area voters rejected a pitch for a public water system, this time to be provided through contractual agreement between Sussex County and Artesian Water Company.

The Nov. 4 referendum failed by a 120-107 margin.

John Ashman, Sussex County’s director of utility planning, announced the referendum results at the Nov. 14 county council meeting.

“You did all you could do,” said county council president Michael Vincent, R-Seaford. “This is our second time we had attempted this. We tried this a few years back.”

That was in 2009.

“This is first time that we went fully to the referendum vote,” said Mr. Ashman, adding in 2009 “we were kind of just about to that process and we decided to go another route the last time. They actually did a vote as a community and it failed also.”

The proposal that met defeat Nov. 4 called for Sussex County to contract with Artesian Water Company to supply water to the customers. In addition, Artesian would perform maintenance on hydrants, valves and water main as well as general operations and maintenance.

Billing services would have been provided by Sussex County.

If it had passed, the estimated average household cost annually was about $400 based on consumption and front-footage cost. Non-profits such as fire companies and churches would not pay front footage costs.

The county’s established baseline cost estimate with Artesian was $6.58 per 1,000 gallons for bulk supply.

The water district process was triggered when the county received the sufficient number of petitions – 50 is the state code minimum requirement.

County council adopted the district boundary on Sept. 19. A public hearing was held Oct. 7.

County councilman Samuel Wilson Jr., R-Georgetown, asked about the cost the county incurred in its follow-up water system pitch to Ellendale.

Sussex County Board of Elections personnel manned both voting locations: Ellendale Fire Hall and the Philadelphia Pentecostal Church for the four-hour voting period.

“I think it’s good for us to know much this cost … $1,000?” said Mr. Wilson.

“Between the advertising, the hall rentals and election department it was well more than $1,000,” said Sussex County Engineer Hans Medlarz.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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