County water to cost more

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Marshall County's water superintendent is recalculating what the utility could be charging its 3,200 customers next year.

Tommy Whaley hadn't crunched all the numbers when he discussed his task last week, but it was clear that he'd apply a flat rate for water service.

Given his assignment from the Marshall County Board of Public Utilities, which met on Dec. 21, Whaley is restructuring the rates from a declining rate system in which "the more you use, the less you pay, to a flat rate so that all pay the same per 1,000 gallons," he said.

As one might expect, the cost of water is going up in the county.

MCBPU is paying about $5,500 more per month for water because the price of water went up. Its sole supplier raised prices.

But MCBPU's increase won't be just because Lewisburg's City Council raised its rates to pay for the expansion of its sewage treatment plant.

"We've had no rate increases from gas increases or power increases," Whaley said of costs the county utility has absorbed for several years.

So, as the superintendent rewrites his proposed rate schedule, he's going to "break out some numbers on day-to-day operating costs," he said.

Whaley's proposed rate structure presented Dec. 21 was a continuation of the approach that might be nicknamed for an old movie: "Cheaper by the Dozen."

"I had it figured it in one direction and they wanted it figured in another," Whaley said. "I'll figure it in the direction they want."

Asked about what an average customers bill might look like, Whaley replied, "I don't know what the impact will be."

He did know that the price hike as proposed would have been "maybe $4-5 more a month."

Meanwhile, MCBPU spokeswoman Gail Shackelford anticipates the county utility board may well make a decision on the new rate structure when it meets at 9 a.m. Jan. 18.

Reflecting on the Dec. 21 meeting, Shackelford reported that Rick Daughrity, a spokesman for people who own property along Sweeney Road, provided the board with a report on the continued interest in water line extensions.

There also were discussions about utility rights-of-way easements for that and other projects, and consideration regarding owners of property along Blackwell Road.

Meanwhile, the utility continues to plan improved water service to the Dockers facility north of Chapel Hill.