Tompkinsville city commissioners approved the first reading of an ordinance during a special-called meeting Wednesday night calling for an increase in water rates.
According to action taken by commissioners, the minimum water rate will go from $13.67 to $19, a difference of $5.33. The rate for the first 5,000 gallons of water will also increase from $23.09 to $30.25, and the rate the city charges the Monroe County Water District will increase by 35 cents.
Increasing the water rates came as a recommendation from a four-person committee, which was appointed at the commission’s November meeting. Serving on the committee were commissioners Scotty Turner and Ricky Richardson, city clerk John Buford and Dave Bowles with Monarch Engineering.
“We met and we had a long meeting. We looked at the cost of service study that we had presented to the council and looked at some various scenarios,” Bowles said. “Our recommendation is to raise your rates [to generate enough] revenue to be equivalent to be about $70,000 worth of increases to get the city at least operating in the black with just barely a small cushion in case something unforeseen happens.”
While trying to determine if a rate increase was what it wanted to recommend to the commission, the committee compared rates from surrounding communities and determined Tompkinsville’s rates would still be cheaper than most of its surrounding communities.
With the rate increase, the city would be able to afford the replacement of water meters, which is expected to lessen the amount of water lost citywide due to water lines leaks and malfunctioning water meters. The city currently has a water loss of 50 percent.
Turner said he would like to see the percentage of water loss decrease by 5 percent each month.
The one thing he wanted city residents to understand, is the commission is “not going into the business of selling water.”
“We are just trying to make enough money off the water to try to sustain what we’ve got and improve what we’ve got now,” Turner said. “I think with this increase we should be able to start replacing water meters. Water lines throughout the whole city are going to have to be replaced, and this is probably the first thing toward actually making that happen.”
Commissioners also agreed to relaunch a program that calls for the replacement of water meters, but rather than using refurbished meters the city will be using new water meters.
The commission is expected to approve the second reading of the ordinance Thursday night, and if it does it will be the first time the city has increased water rates in four years, according to Turner.
Mayor Jeff Proffitt asked commissioners by increasing water rates, were they saying no to a proposed project that involves the construction of water plant along the Cumberland River that would serve both the city and the county, as well as parts of surrounding communities.
“I think this is just to compensate to take care of us for the time being,” said commissioner Ricky Richardson. “I don’t think we’ve ever decided one way or the other [about the Cumberland River project].”
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