DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners voted Monday to place a lien against property at 158 Toast Road to cover its cost in replacing a faulty septic system.
Commissioner Larry Johnson came to the defense of property owner Cynthia Williams McMillian, who told the board in October she didn’t think she could pay the county back for the repairs and feared losing her home.
“I would like for the commissioners of the county to consider, not a complete, 100-percent leniency, but help her out a little bit,” Johnson said.
The repair came in under budget, costing $3,721 as opposed to an estimated $5,175, according to correspondence submitted to the board by County Attorney Ed Woltz.
McMillian did not respond to a letter delivered by certified mail giving her a week to let Woltz know if she intended to pay for the septic repairs, the attorney said.
She was not present at the meeting Monday night.
Johnson noted that McMillian had spoken to the board in October without legal representation and already will be paying for “years and years and years” on back taxes.
“I know it had to be fixed,” he said, referring to the septic system that one adjoining neighbor told officials had been spewing raw sewage into a drainage ditch off and on since 2009.
County experts, who witnessed sewage surfacing on other areas of the property, declared the problem a hazard in an October hearing.
Since then, “The problem has been resolved,” Johnson said, suggesting the lien be placed for only half of the cost.
No other commissioners added anything to the discussion.
Commissioner R.F. “Buck” Golding’s motion that a lien be placed against the property for the full amount of the repair passed four to one, with Johnson voting against.
Numerous attempts had been made to get McMillian to repair the system on her own, which included a 2012 court order.
She also spent 24 hours in jail that year for a criminal violation of public health laws, a county expert testified in October.
In July, the board offered to pay for the repair and place a lien on the property to cover the cost.
McMillian had agreed to that course of action but later ran off workers who showed up to fix it.
In October, the board declared the failing septic system a public nuisance and ordered the replacement of the system, having the authority to do so without the consent of the property owner.
An invoice submitted to the board states that the work was done on Oct. 27.
Commissioner Larry Phillips was unanimously approved Monday as the voting delegate to the 2017 Legislative Goals Conference.
Each county board in the state was requested to designate a voting delegate, though any commissioner is welcome to attend the January conference in Raleigh.
Nominated by Commissioner Van Tucker, the only objection to Phillips’s selection was by the commissioner himself, who pointed out a possible conflict of interest due to his serving on the executive board of the conference.
“I just want to keep the lines clear,” Phillips said.
The board nominated Golding as an alternate delegate who will step in if a conflict emerges with Phillips.
The board reached a consensus to move forward on a Stokes County request to utilize the Dobson 9-1-1 center as a back-up in the event the neighboring county has a failure in its emergency communication operations.
John Shelton, director of Surry County Emergency Services, assured the board that Stokes County would provide staffing and that the agreement would be reciprocal.
Next steps include drafting an agreement between the two counties.
“It’s only great if the lines of responsibility are clear,” Phillips stated.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.