Letcher County water customers with accounts 60 days or more overdue will receive letters informing them of their options very soon, and if the bills are not taken care of within five days of receiving the letter, they will be terminated without further notice. Once an account is terminated a reconnect fee of $45 will be accessed in addition to the amount they are delinquent.
The Letcher County Water and Sewer District Board of Directors made the decision at a special called meeting held on April 22, which was called for the purpose of attending to delinquent accounts. At the regular April meeting, held April 15, several board and audience members said the board could not subsidize customers by allowing them free use of water, particularly in light of the fact that the board buys a signifi- cant portion of the water it sells to Letcher County customers and will continue to do so.
“We can’t keep going on like this,” said Board Chair Phillip “Pee Wee” Back at the regular meeting. “We’re down to the bare minimum now.”
The board will also impose a 10 percent penalty on delinquent accounts, which board members said will be enforced. Disconnect letters will be sent out on the 26th of each month. Customers with delinquent accounts who wish to avoid being disconnected can come into the office and sign a partial payment plan by paying 25 percent of the outstanding bill and agreeing to pay the remainder in monthly installments of 25 percent in addition to their regular monthly bill. Anyone who signs a partial payment plan and does not pay the agreed upon amount plus the monthly bill will be subject to be disconnected without further notice.
At the April 15 meeting, Board Attorney Jamie Hatton said if people still refuse to pay after being disconnected, the board could take them to Small Claims Court, but he said that such activity and other collections procedures should only be necessary if someone no longer wants water and still refuses to pay the bill.
In business conducted at the April 15 meeting, Supt. Tim Reed reported that the district now has 2,041 customers and that his work crew completed 37 work orders in March. He also reported that Board Secretary Tiff any Collins’s probationary period is complete and the board voted to hire her full-time with a $1 per hour raise, which is customary when probation ends.
Reed told the board he received a letter from the Cumberland Water District saying that Cumberland can supply 75 gallons of water per minute to the Cumberland River Project. Reed said this will be enough to serve Phase I, but that Cumberland cannot provide more water until the Harlan County Fiscal Court provides funds to expand the plant. Board Attorney Hatton said he has been told that the Harlan County Court will fund the expansion.
The board also voted to advertise two more water line projects for bid and to accept the low bid of $175,051.50 by Stott’s Construction of London for the Premium/ Highway160 Project as well. Phase I of the Thornton Water Project and the Red Star/Hallie/Ulvah Water Improvement Project will be advertised for bid in The Mountain Eagle today (Wednesday) and bids will be opened May 18. Lee Lowe of Bell Engineering recommended advertising for bids and told the board that Abandoned Mine Lands has agreed to fund water projects in Elk Creek, Bull Creek, Carcassonne, Pine Creek, Pert Creek, and Cram Creek. Lowe said construction on those projects will commence when AML receives and releases the funds for the work.
In addition to the Thornton, Red Star/Ulvah/Hallie, and the Knott County Interconnect Project, which has been under construction since January, progress on other projects is ongoing. The Loggy Hollow Project will commence as soon as funds are available as will the AML-funded projects. The Millstone Water Project is still under design, as is the Deane/Beaver Gap Project. The Garner Mountain Project has been approved by the Kentucky Department of Water and is ready for construction and Craft’s Colly Phase II and III are still held up by right-of-way problems on Copperhead Road.
Abby Jones of Nesbitt Engineering reported that plans for the Payne Gap/Kona Project should be submitted to the DOW by the end of the month and said the tank will be located on the ridge at the intersection of US 23 and US 119.