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Water and sewer rates pumping up?

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By Scotty McDaniel

Shelbyville City Council approved the first reading of an ordinance Thursday that would increase city water rates by 5.8 percent and sewage rates by 4.5 percent.

Tom Doyle, manager of Shelbyville Municipal Water and Sewer, presented the ordinance to the council, stating that the revised schedule of rates and charges would bring in the revenue necessary to balance the budget for the Municipal Waterworks and Sewer System.

The ordinance refers to the fact that "the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the Kentucky Department for Natural Resources continue to impose more stringent criteria to improve the quality of drinking water and treated wastewater, increasing the costs of providing these services."

"It's important that the commission has the financial ability to keep the system up to standards and the infrastructure current," Doyle said. "And to continue to meet all EPA guidelines with their increased testing and requirements."

City council members initially questioned why the ordinance nearly doubled the 3 percent increase that was discussed back in the summer. Doyle informed them that right now the commission is operating on a -$48,000 budget. He said the commission was hoping that a fall drought would help generate enough revenue to make up for that loss, but the economy dropped while the cost of raw products escalated. Those things together made the commission run into a shortfall.

Projections put the shortfall in the $80,000 range by next July at current rate levels, he said, so the proposed rate increase would generate approximately that amount by the end of the fiscal year.

Though 5.8 percent sounds like a sizeable increase, Doyle said it's really not. A single elderly person uses approximately 2,000 gallons of water a month. If they're on water and sewer, he said, their bill would be around a dollar more each month.

A normal household uses about 5,000 gallons a month, he said. Their increase would be $1.76 a month. However, the exact dollar figure is based on the amount of water you use.

The change would first appear on Feb. 1, 2009 bills, for water and sewer used from mid-December, 2008 to mid-January, 2009.

Shelbyville would still have some of the lowest rates in the region, and the commission would have the funds necessary to provide its quality services without having to borrow money, he said, thereby saving customers from long-term debt obligation.

The first reading of the ordinance was approved Thursday, but the final reading of the ordinance will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at city hall, with a public hearing being held at 6:15 p.m.

Also at the meeting, the council:

* Proclaimed the week of Nov. 21-27, 2008 as National Farm-City Week. Mayor Tom Hardesty calls upon citizens to acknowledge and celebrate the achievements of those who produce agricultural products that strengthen and enrich the community and nation.

* Approved the second reading of an ordinance stating that no sales of motor vehicles by a licensed motor vehicle dealer is permitted anywhere other than the dealer's permanent place of business.

The ordinance only allows temporary sales for dealers who have temporary interruptions - such as fire, flood, repairs or construction -- at their permanent location that prevent business as usual.

It states that no dealer can be granted more than one temporary sale permit from the city in any twelve month period, and no temporary sale can last for more than 30 days. For an additional permit or extension, the dealer must show extreme hardship and get the permit approved by the mayor.

* Approved the first reading of an ordinance that is addressed every year -- enacting and adopting a supplement to the code of ordinances of the city of Shelbyville, according to the American Legal Publishing Corporation's recommendations.