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Residents voice FUD rate hike concerns

First Utility District’s rate hike drew criticism from Farragut resident Maureen Shank at Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting Thursday, Oct. 9.

“Many of us saw our bills soar. While some saw it go up 10, maybe 20 dollars for the month, mine in particular was up $220 from May to June,” Shank said.

“The rates went up astronomically. I can understand having an increase of 10 or 20 dollars, but $220? I don’t think that that’s reasonable,” she added.

Shank claimed FUD was charging her for using 51,000 gallons of water during June.

Shank and her family of four live in a 1,450 square-foot house. According to Shank, she does not irrigate in summer months.

“We have not had any increased water usage.

“There seems to be no reasonable explanation for this,” Shank said.

“There’s no way you can justify this kind of water usage and it’s the same for everyone on the street,” she added.

She said FUD employees had checked her water system twice for leaks and found nothing. However, an employee did explain FUD was in the process of replacing antiquated water meters, of which Shank’s is one.

“Our meters are 30 years old. I have asked for them to be calibrated; they say they cannot be calibrated because they are too old.

“They really have no way to measure the amount of water we are actually using,” Shank said.

According to Shank, a First Utility secretary said her subdivision could not be moved up the list for replacing water meters.

“We will have to pay for water we are not using until they can get out there and fix them,” Shank said.

FUD employees also could not base rates on last year’s water usage or at a pro rate for wastewater usage.

Shank also said the PSI [pressure per square inch] of water entering her house was between 180 and 200. The ideal pressure should be no more than 100.

“They’re claiming that has nothing to do with water usage … but yes, it can, in fact, increase your water usage by anywhere between 10 and 100 gallons a day,” Shank said.

Town attorney Tom Hale explained First Utility’s authority within Town limits.

“They are a quasi-governmental entity that are independent of the Town … They have certain rights and governance under the laws of the State,” he said.

“The fact that they are unresponsive is cause for concern.

“I’m trying to be very reasonable … they’re just not willing,” Shank said.

“I think there’s a big problem,” she added.

Hale said the Town does not have authority over FUD, but told Shank First Utility had a process for contesting water bills.

Vice Mayor J. Michael Haynes told Shank Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale had some influence over FUD’s Board of Directors, which currently has a vacancy.

“I think he would be very interested to know that you were told they would not even respond to you in any way,” Haynes said.

Mayor W. Edward “Eddy” Ford III said the Town could write First Utility a letter, expressing Farragut residents’ concerns.

He added that any other residents who wished their names to be attached to the letter contact Town staff.

“If by the time the letter goes out, there are others have come to our front desk and stated it, we would be glad to pass that to them,” Ford said.

First Utility’s Board of Directors will hold a meeting at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 27, at First Utility’s office off Durwood Road.


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