Former state Rep. Arnold Stulce, D-Soddy-Daisy, criticized the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority board’s chairman Thursday night, saying he was not listening to public input regarding a planned $8 monthly fee.
“All you’ve done is said, ‘Here’s the castor oil you’re going to give us,’” Mr. Stulce told authority board Chairman Henry Hoss. “You’re going to stick it down our throats.”
Mr. Stulce was one of about 20 in attendance at a public meeting at Soddy-Daisy City Hall about an authority plan to inspect and repair sewer lines that connect homes to the main sewer line. That plan, called the “private service lateral plan,” would include the $8 fee.
About 24,000 gravity sewer customers throughout the county would have to pay the fee.
Mr. Hoss said he was listening to public input. He said at Wednesday’s authority board meeting that a hold on the fee plan would be lifted unless “anything of substance or significance” comes up at remaining public meetings.
IF YOU GO
What: The wastewater authority will hold one more public meeting to discuss the $8 fee plan.
When: 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: East Ridge Community Center, 1517 Tombras Ave.
Soddy-Daisy City Commissioner Gene Shipley argued that Soddy-Daisy, which has about 1,000 gravity sewer customers, has a much newer sewer system than other municipalities in the county. He said Soddy-Daisy would end up footing the bill for towns that have older systems.
Mr. Hoss said the older systems may have more problems, but said problems with the lines likely exist in Soddy-Daisy as well.
Earlier in the meeting, Mr. Stulce said the authority’s plan was a way to get around a 1999 law requiring the authority to pay for repairs to lines that go from a homeowner’s property line to the main sewer line. Mr. Stulce was the sponsor of the bill that put that law in place.
“You’ve endeavored to bypass that law that was passed,” Mr. Stulce said.
Mr. Hoss said authority officials would abide by the law as long as it is on the books. Authority officials, who say the law unfairly singles them out, have hired a lobbyist to try to get the law changed.
Sewer authorities in other counties are not responsible for those lines; homeowners are.
Authority officials did not know about the law until about a month after it was passed, Mr. Hoss said.
“Nobody ever passed anything in secret over there,” said Mr. Stulce.
Mr. Hoss said Mr. Stulce and County Commissioner Fred Skillern were “wasting our time” discussing the law during the meeting, which was intended to be about the service lateral plan.
“You’re wasting our money, sir,” Mr. Skillern responded. “We will lobby every representative we have in this county to make sure that law is never changed.”