City hears water rate complaints

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Lewisburg residents' complaints about utility rates were heard Tuesday by the City Council.

"This council needs to take some corrective action," Councilman Robin Minor said before public comments were received during the regular monthly meeting.

Some residents are paying for sewer service just because the pipe is close enough to their home for a connection, even though they have a septic tank.

That was a recurring complaint, but the larger question was why someone charged only for water is paying more when the reason for the rate hikes is the sewerage system's leaky pipes and a $13 million project to double the sewage treatment plant's capacity.

The issue goes beyond the town line because Lewisburg owns the water and sewer systems in Cornersville, and the city sells water to the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities which has been supplying Chapel Hill when its well and cave spring are not as bountiful as needed.

Minor was approached by "more than 15 people at the Shell station, Mildred's Restaurant and Wal-Mart," the councilman said. "And they're not happy with the situation."

Minor and others on the council have criticized the current administration at the Lewisburg Water and Sewer Department, saying they've lost confidence in their leadership. That criticism has cooled, somewhat.

Minor still doesn't have the "best confidence" in the current administration now, he continued, but he remains discontented with decisions made in the past with large amounts of money.

During the public comment period, city resident Bob Lowe asked why he's now paying more for the sewer service part of his utility bill - compared to the water bill - when he uses a septic tank.

"I want a refund," Lowe said. "I think we all ought to get a refund."

John Barron of Old Columbia Road asked, "If a person is not on city sewer, why should the water rate go up?"

Barron has never had city sewer service - "Never been offered," he said.

Phillip Baxter also spoke to the council Tuesday night outlining problems with Allied Waste, the private company colleting trash since city service was curtailed as uncertainty continues on whether the state will let Waste Management Inc. open a new dumping area to keep the landfill open for several more years.

Baxter was especially concerned about trash service for small businesses and Mayor Barbara Woods said that when the city service was succeeded by Allied Waste, "Most of us looked at it from the residents' point of view."