- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina’s highest court is about to decide whether elected officials can use profits generated by a city’s water and sewage utility for other needs.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday hears arguments in a lawsuit that claims the city of Columbia wrongly diverted profits to support public relations and economic development needs. The State newspaper reports (https://bit.ly/1CL0Fs4 ) the lawsuit says Columbia transferred almost $80 million to other purposes between 1999 and 2010.

Columbia’s lawyers say municipalities can set utility rates to generate a profit and use the money as officials decide.

The Environmental Protection Agency has threatened the city with fines and a possible water system takeover after overflows from the city’s lines illegally spilled into waterways.

The city has started on a multi-year, $600 million upgrade.

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Information from: The State, https://www.thestate.com

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