Lowe may end campaign

Friday, February 18, 2011

The instigator behind an on-going conflict over sewer fees is wondering if he should just stop, he said this week before and after taking his complaint to the District Attorney's office in the Marshall County Courthouse.

"I may just quit doing it," Bob Lowe said of his recurring questions at City Hall and the city utility office on Water Street. "I get no pleasure out of it," he said of his campaign to end a utility fee that he sees as unfair.

If a sewer is close enough to a residence for a tap, according to the city utility's rules and regulations, then a charge is imposed even if there's no tap. Worse, Lowe says, the charge is based on water usage, so the cost changes every month.

"I felt like it was wrong," Lowe said Tuesday at an office on Lewisburg's public square.

So, now he's conflicted. The issue has been under consideration since last summer without resolution.

"I thought Odie [Whitehead Jr.], and Robin [Minor, two councilmen] would pick up on it," Lowe said, reflecting on the prospect of relief from what he sees as a civic duty because if he's going to complain about it, then he should try to make a change.

Still, he's thinking about quitting the campaign.

"But," he said, "I care about people."

So, his latest step has been to explain the situation at the District Attorney's office in the Marshall County Courthouse.

"I want the DA to do what I've asked the council to do," Lowe said after speaking with Assistant District Attorney Eddie Barnard, the prosecutor assigned to deal with cases and administration here for District Attorney Chuck Crawford who's headquartered in Fayetteville.

"He listened to me and said he'll look into it," Lowe said.

That was after he met with Barnard.

"I don't think it's a good idea for me to state publicly what people bring to me," Barnard said of Lowe's office visit.

Meanwhile, The Daily Herald reported on Thursday that the Columbia City Council is considering a sewer rate increase that would "nearly double the average household's monthly bill." The prospective 86 percent increase would increase a typical sewer bill from $25.75 to $48.

In Lewisburg, a typical household bill might be about the same as what Columbia has been charging, according to a review of public records at the utility office on Water Street. That comparison is based on an assumption that consumption is similar.

The following example applies only to sewer costs for customers in the city of Lewisburg.

The minimum fee is for 2,000 gallons or less, and that costs $15.47.

That dollar amount is what some city residents point to as a flat rate that would be more acceptable if there was no sewer tap, assuming one agreed they should pay for the availability of sewer service.

If a household used 4,000 gallons of water per month, then the assumption is that much water is flushed or drained to the sewer for treatment. The cost of the sewer service would be $28.45, total, including the $15.47.