Somerset and Ferguson share many borders with each other, and so it only makes sense the municipalities would share utility systems.
During the Sept. 23 Somerset City Council meeting, a resolution was read that would ultimately transfer Ferguson’s gas and sewage systems and assets to Somerset in an effort to streamline services and provide cheaper bills for residents.
The two cities, through meetings between Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler and Ferguson Mayor Allen Dobbs and between legal counsel, have been working on an agreement for more than a year. Somerset already provides water service to Ferguson residents, but through the new agreement, the larger municipality will take over the operations of Ferguson’s sewage and gas systems in an effort to bypass some hand-switching when it comes to billing customers.
“We’ve always had a long-standing tradition of working with Ferguson,” said Girdler during the meeting.
Somerset had already franchised through Ferguson, and provided maintenance assistance on the system.
Now, Somerset will assume all responsibility for those systems — under the condition that Somerset pays Ferguson around $65,000 yearly. Water bills will remain unchanged since Somerset already operates that service, but Girdler during the council meeting said Ferguson residents could see sewer rates decrease by $2 per month, and they could see a 25 percent decrease on natural gas bills.
“Anytime you can give residents a reduction in their utility costs, it’s a good thing; anytime you can help them save money, that’s a good thing,” Dobbs told the Commonwealth Journal in July when asked about the agreement. “We’re pretty excited about it.”
Girdler said that, with the sewer system under Somerset’s jurisdiction, sewer system expansion through parts of the small city may be more possible through state and federal help.
“There is a very ... good possibility we will receive funding to expand sewer in Ferguson,” said Girdler.