Whitesburg KY

Neon water rates to increase

The Fleming-Neon City Council learned at its November meeting that water rates will have to be raised by a total of 17 percent in the next two years so the city can qualify for a $143,000 planning and design loan from Kentucky Infrastructure Authority.

The loan is for the design of needed upgrades to the city’s water system, which has had ongoing maintenance issues in the past few years. Paul Nesbitt of Nesbitt Engineering, who is working with the city on overhauling both its water and sewer systems, told the council that an eight percent increase will be necessary in 2015, followed by a nine percent increase in 2016. He said that after examining the city’s recent audits, KIA determined the city isn’t charging water customers enough and that the increases will be necessary to get guaranteed payments on the loan.

Nesbitt said the low interest loan (2.5%) would be used for the planning and design that will be necessary to qualify the city for approximately $3 million in loans and grants that will be used to refurbish the water system. He added that KIA officials indicated that with the rate increases it is very likely the KIA board will approve the city’s application for the loan in December.

The council approved a resolution to begin the process of raising water rates.

Councilman Trey Quillen asked Nesbitt if that meant that approval was guaranteed. Nesbitt said that while nothing is guaranteed, staff approval of the application package is a very good sign that the board will look favorably on the city’s loan request.

Nesbitt added that the rate increase is not only necessary to secure the loan, but would make it possible for Water Department Manager Chris Banks and his crew to carry out the maintenance functions necessary to keep the aging system going while plans are made for upgrades.

Banks reported a 30 percent loss of treated water for October and said that the water plant needs a new pump that costs $23,500. When asked if the pump was ordered, Banks said there is not enough money available to pay for it.

In other business, Police Chief Mike Dingus told the council he recently completed Rapid Deployment Instructor training, which will enable him to teach other offi cers and first responders how to deal with emergencies including active shooter situations.

The council voted unanimously to approve the resignation of Councilman Robert Champion, who resigned because he has moved to Deane, which is not in the city limits. The council voted to appoint Susie Fleming to fill the remainder of Champion’s term. Fleming was elected as a writein candidate for the next council term as well.

The city’s Christmas Dinner will be held at City Hall on December 9 at 6:30 p.m. Councilman James D. Collins said that last year’s dinner, also held at City Hall and featuring two deep fried turkeys by Chef Dingus and pot luck by city staff and council members, had been very successful. The council agreed to do the same this year, with the addition of a third turkey. The date for the dinner was set after Mayor Polis consulted her University of Kentucky basketball schedule to find a date that wouldn’t conflict with a UK basketball game.

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