Hodgenville City Council is considering a measure that will increase the cost of water and sewer service.
At Monday’s public hearing, the Council held first reading of an ordinance that will raise sewer rates by 10 percent and minimum water rate by 7.5 percent in 2012. Annual increases through 2015 are being considered.
Combined minimum water and sewer rates will be $8.94 higher by 2015 than current rates.
The rate increase, if passed at the Dec. 12 council meeting, will be used to pay off a $2 million loan from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority. The money will be used to upgrade sewer and water lines.
The loan, according to Mayor Terry Cruse, has been approved by the KIA at a repayment rate of 2 percent for 20 years.
“We’re required to have a revenue stream to pay off (the loan) through water and sewer rates,” he said.
Rates have not been increased since 2004.
Brad Montgomery, an engineer with GRW, provided an overview of the project which includes renovation of the water tower at LaRue County High School, demolition of the old Greensburg Street water tower, water main improvements and sewer line rehabilitation.
Keeping storm water from entering the sewer system and making sure sewer water “gets to the plant” are two goals, Montgomery said.
Areas of the city lack a good drainage system, he said. Ditches are undersized and some constitute safety hazards. And in one spot, a ditch shares a common wall with a basement.
“It’s difficult to predict the benefit you’ll get out of a rehabilitation project,” Montgomery said. “The City of Hodgenville will probably be doing sewer rehab projects as long as you have a sewer system.”
Ashley Willoughby, a community development specialist with Lincoln Trail Area Development District, said the City is “not alone” in dealing with the issue. He advised the council to take care of the infrastructure as the money has “been made available.”
The state receives $20 to $50 million each year for “projects like this,” he said. Communities compete for funds and this year, clean water and waste water projects were approved for Hodgenville.
“Grants are few and seldom line up (with a community’s) needs,” Willoughby said.
“… obviously no one wants to look at raising rates … especially in these economic times – but it won’t get any cheaper.”
About eight people attended the hearing.
Rick Roach said residents on fixed income would have problems paying the increased fees. He asked, “When is the stopping point on this?”
Cruse replied, “There isn’t one.”
He pointed out that money to finance the sewer and water line improvements “can’t be taken from anywhere else (general fund or property taxes) – only sewer and water revenue.
J.C. Ragland said he has “put up with (the poor drainage) for 41 years.” His basement is the one that shares a wall with a drainage ditch. He said the water gets in his car, has eaten away the foundation of his house and washed the top soil from his garden.
He said the proposed rate increase is “reasonable” and that it will cost “more without it.”
Garvis Campbell also supported improvements and encouraged the Council to approve the project. He’s had recurring problems with erosion on his College Street property.
The proposed rate increases will not be final until the Council holds second reading at the December meeting.
Monday’s vote was unanimous. Councilman Woodie Handley was not present.
For more information about the proposed rate increases, call City Hall at 358-3832.
Current water rates are $18.34 for minimum 3,000 gallons; sewer rate is $15.60 for minimum 3,000 gallons.
Proposed in-city water rates are:
2012 – Minimum - $19.72, Sewer - $17.16
2013 – $20.71, Sewer - $18.19
2014 – $21.74, Sewer - $19.10
2015 – $22.83, Sewer - $20.05
Outside city limits:
Current water rate for outside city limits is $28.33 for minimum 3,000 gallons; $8 per next 7,000 gallons.
Proposed outside city water rates are:
2012 – $29.56
2013 – $31.04
2014 – $32.59
2015 – $34.22