Church, town at odds over sewer tap-in fees

As a subscriber of the Bladen Journal, I attest to this newspaper’s connective and collaborative powers that benefit the citizens of Bladen and surrounding counties. Also, the Bladen Journal brings the community closer together, but it has also proven to be a panacea in holding officials accountable in their day-to-day decision-making.

Therefore, I share with the Bladen Journal a letter forwarded to the town of Bladenboro (to date, the administrators from the town of Bladenboro have not contacted First Baptist regarding the content of my letter. Therefore, First Baptist Church will express concerns to the town board during its regular meeting Oct. 9):

Dear Mayor Duckworth,

As you are aware, First Baptist Church, after 104 years as an integral and noteworthy organization in the town of Bladenboro, has begun a project of installing bathrooms for the handicapped in the front of its sanctuary.

Upon speaking to a representative from the town of Bladenboro, FBC was informed that a sewer-tap fee of $600 would be the expense for tying into the City of Bladenboro’s water and sewer line. In addition, a town of Bladenboro official stated that FBC would be responsible for repairing the roads and replacing new asphalt. After paying the sewer-tap fee of $600 (fee mandated before the sewer-tap service was provided), FBC received bids from independent contractors to repair the road on Benjamin Street and to place new asphalt.

On Aug. 24, the town of Bladenboro forwarded a letter stating that a miscellaneous charge for $3,660 will be added to FBC’s utility bill in September. Also, enclosed in the letter was an invoice from Hickman Utilities INC for $4,260 minus $600. This letter expresses grave concern regarding a $3,660 charge to FBC without prior approval or authorization.

As a general contractor and town of Bladenboro taxpayer, I ask how many quotes did the town of Bladenboro receive? It is standard procedure to get more than one quote. Because FBC was informed by the town of Bladenboro that the church would be responsible for the repairs, I received quotes from independent licensed contractors to make repairs and the quotes I received were at a phenomenal lower price.

After receiving quotes, legally, the payee is notified of the costs and is given an opportunity to consent or dissent the contract prior to services being rendered.

FBC asks that you review this charge and contact me regarding the decision after a review. Your expeditiousness in this matter would be greatly appreciated.

Respectfully submitted,

Wilson A. Lacy


First Baptist Church