Hawesville tables sewer rate hike

Hawesville tables sewer rate hike till next meeting
By Dave Taylor

After looking over potential sewer rate increases in its August meeting the Hawesville City Council tabled the discussion at its meeting Tuesday, citing confusion over the numbers the council had been presented.
The council had three options for sewer rate increases, one totaling a 15 percent overall revenue increase, one totaling 17.5 percent and the third bringing in an additional 20 percent. The rate increase was being considered because when the city was approved for a government loan to build a new wastewater treatment plant, part of the repayment calculations included revenue from the plan for Century Aluminum to tap on to its sewer system, which never materialized.

Losing that industrial customer meant about $20,000 less income, putting the city just short of being able to make its monthly loan payments.  But after reviewing the three rate hike options, the councilmen had questions about the numbers.
Councilman Wayne Herndon said in comparing the differences in total revenue between the 15 percent and 17.5 percent rates versus 17.5 and 20 percent didn’t seem to make sense.
“Between a 2.5 percent difference we’re talking $26. In a month’s time that’s all it’s going to mean?” he said.  “That’s what it says, for the annual I mean, it’s $26 difference,” he said.
“That probably was a typo,” said councilman Kevin Linn. “Maybe we can get that straightened out. Don’t you think?”
“Well I don’t know because when you go from the 17.5 percent to the 20 percent there’s $7,000-something difference,” Herndon said. “So somewhere 2.5 percent figures are off just a little bit somewhere.”

Mayor Charles King said he couldn’t explain the difference and that Matt Curtis, the Georgetown, Ky. engineer contracted with the city for the project, was unable to attend the meeting.
Councilman Joy Haycraft asked King if he’d talked to Century about the possibility of them still coming on to the system, but King said he hadn’t talked to anyone in leadership yet, although he didn’t expect the company to tap on this year.

“Once corporate has not approved that in the budget they’re not very flexible on talking about it,” he said. “If it’s not in the budget they’re not going to do it, even though I think we’ve got a strong argument that it would save them a lot of money.”  King said that if the company did decide to come on to the city’s system rather than continue to operate their own plant at the factory, that the increase in revenue would mean the rate increase could go away. “If we get the revenue coming in like from them we can reduce it back,” he said.

Herndon said that the city still needed to come up with the additional $20,000 and that since all three options brought in the required amount, that he’d prefer to stick with the smallest increase possible. Others reiterated the concern over the confusion with the totals, so the topic was tabled until a later meeting.

The council also took the following actions:
• Approved the minutes of the August 18 meeting.
• Approved the payment of the August bills.
• Approved a resolution for CARES Act funds to reimburse the city for $50,000 in expenses related to the COVID-19 virus.
• Discussed an insurance payment for $23,500 in repair work on the stainless steel trough on the new wastewater treatment plant.
• Discussed dogs running loose in the city. King said citizens who have issues with dogs should contact the animal shelter and the dog warden.

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