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LCUB to raise water, sewer rates


Lenoir City Utilities Board’s water and sewer customers will see a block rate increase for both services beginning in 2008.

The increased revenue is to help generate funds for an existing Tennessee Municipal League loan as well as improvements to the sewer system required

for the new Town Creek

development.

The utilities’ board members approved the increase at its monthly meeting Monday, Nov. 19, at Lenoir City Town Hall.

Greg Jones, manger of water/wastewater, told the Board in regard to the water rate increase, “The state supports [the block increase] in order to generate revenue to pay for the T-M-L loan for phase one of the water systems improvement project as well as the Hodgekiss Valley water system, the cost over-run for the tank site and any additional work that we might have to do on the Highway 321 corridor.”

Jones added according to Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, the average household uses 5,000 gallons of water per month and this increase would affect only those using more than 5,000 gallons per month.

TDEC standard for an average household is 2.5 people.

The water increase was approved with a vote of six to one with Councilman Tony Aikens as the only dissenting vote.

In regard to the block sewer rate, Jones said, “This was mandated by TDEC in order to pay back the debt service on the [existing] $13.5 million loan as well as the new $5.5 for our collection system. It is set up based on the states requirement.”

LCUB general manager Fred Nelson said LCUB had been given a two-year extension on the existing $13.5 million with the stipulation that it follows the TDEC recommendations as to rate increases to fund the debt service.

Board member Pat Beasley said, “I think we dodged a huge bullet when they gave us the two-year extension. I do not want to be facing the bullet again.”

Council Eddie Simpson said, “The critical word is mandated. We were mandated by the state to do everything with our filtration system within the sewer department. I have trouble with the expansion of our lines outside of the sewer plant. I

am not sure that has been

mandated.”

In a previous interview with farragutpress Nelson said LCUB would have to expand its lines in order to account for increased sewage caused by the proposed Town Creek development.

Jones said, “Within the commissioner’s order there is clause in regard to our hydraulic capacity. Knowing we have a problem with our hydraulic capacity we cannot allow anyone to tie onto the system.”

Aikens asked how much the rates were expected to increase.

Jones explained the increase would be for four years only and would increase by five percent in 2008, by another 10 percent in 2009 and again in 2010, followed by a final five percent increase in 2011.

Aikens expressed concern for the strain an increase would impose on the elderly and those on a fixed income.

Nelson said, “The state is going to come right in here if this is voted down. There is nothing you, as a board, can do. I know that is not easy for a Board to hear, it is not easy for us either. I know this Board does not like to raise rates, but this is coming directly from the State of Tennessee, we have no choice.”

The increase was approved by a vote of six to one with Aikens, again, as the only dissenting vote.

 

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