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Ordinance would increase city’s water usage charge by 5 percent

By Bill Short

Flag City LogoThe Millington Board of Mayor and Aldermen has passed an ordinance on first reading that would increase the charge for water usage by 5 percent.
Board members took the action during their May 9 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Thomas McGhee and seconded by Alderman Bethany Huffman.
The motion was passed by five affirmative votes, with Aldermen Larry Dagen and Hank Hawkins absent.
The proposed ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing and final reading at tonight’s board meeting.
The City Charter authorizes the board to operate water and sewer systems to “promote and protect the public health,” and to impose charges to cover the costs of those services.
Tennessee law requires that the charges cover the costs separately for the two systems.
The proposed ordinance states that the operating costs of Millington’s Water System continue to increase as the system ages, while the number of customers remains “static from year to year.”
While noting that this necessitates a rate hike, the ordinance states that 5 percent is the “smallest increase” that will cover the estimated costs for the 2017 fiscal year.
Water supplied by the city’s water system would be charged to each customer based on the following monthly rates:
(1) First 2,000 gallons – $10.50.
(2) Additional usage – The amount that bears the same relationship to $3.52 that the number of gallons used in excess of the first 2,000 bears to 1,000 gallons.
The rate would be adjusted each year for bills issued at the end of July. It would be based on the percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index over the December 2015 index.
The rate increase would be posted on the city’s Web site as soon as it is known.
During discussion shortly before the vote, City Finance Director John Trusty said there are “several major items coming up” in both the Water and Sewer funds, but only the Water Fund currently needs an increase.
In response to a question by Huffman, Trusty said that, because the Water Fund has to “stand on its own,” any improvements must be paid out of it.
“Several years ago, the state mandated that the city raise its rates,” he recalled. “And after the state did that was the last time these rates were raised. So, we’re keeping them from complaining this time.”
In response to a question by Alderman Mike Caruthers, Trusty said he has not been required to “go brief” the state Water Board.
He noted that Millington’s previous discussion with that board was about the report that has to be submitted as part of the annual audit report. And he acknowledged that, in the one year that the city was “at ratings” lower than what the state required, then-City Manager Chris Dorsey did have to meet with the Water Board.
“Since then,” Trusty concluded, “our ratings have been within the guidelines. So, that has not been an issue.”

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June 2016
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