The Town of Dearing recently got a scare from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
After receiving a letter from USDA -- whose grants and loans funded the water and sewer projects in the south end of the county -- the town thought its sewer system revenue might not be enough to cover the cost of operation.
Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders met with the Dearing City Council last Monday night to help explain the letter and discuss possible solutions.
"It was a kind of a standard letter from USDA that, when you read it, you don't really even have to reply to it, but I was actually replying to it," Mr. Flanders said. "One of the questions in the letter had to do with their accounts receivable. I've done some research, and they don't really have an accounts receivable problem."
It turned out that the concerns had already been addressed by a council vote last year to raise sewer rates inside Dearing by $6 a month and pay for the rest of the shortfall from the general fund.
"We've decided to just stay with what we've got right now," said Dearing Mayor Ralph Menees. "(The Department of Community Affairs) had given us permission to do what we were doing some time ago, they just didn't recommend it."
The USDA letter, according to Mayor Menees, pointed out that the procedure approved by the city council was not the "usual policy, but it is permissible." Mr. Flanders said the letter was simply to get officials to consider raising rates or lowering expenses.
"Until such time as they have a lot more growth down there or we refinance, they're always going to be right on the edge with USDA, but they're going to be OK." he said.
Mr. Flanders used the remainder of his visit to Dearing to bring the city council members up to date on the history of the system and to go over the revenues and rate structure for the town's portion of the sewer system.