published Friday, February 25th, 2011

Cleveland water, sewer rates could rise

CLEVELAND, Tenn. — The proposed Cleveland Utilities budget for fiscal year 2011-12 includes 5 percent rate increases for water and sewer services.

The utility's board received a draft copy of the budget Thursday. The board and the Cleveland City Council must approve the budget. The fiscal year begins July 1.

Finance Manager Ken Webb said the budget includes a 2.5 percent merit raise for qualified employees in the electric, water and sewer divisions, plus a 1.5 percent cost-of-living increase.

General Manager Tom Wheeler said several major projects will start in the coming fiscal year, including a big water line from Charleston south to APD 40.

He likened the projects to the expansion several years ago of the Hiwassee Utility Commission's Charleston water plant. That came before the G.E. lighting distribution center, Wacker Chemical and Amazon moved or announced plans to move to northern Bradley County.

"I've been fortunate to work for a board that has stayed ahead of the curve to be sure infrastructure is in place when it is needed," Wheeler said. "Without that infrastructure in place, these things would never have happened."

The draft budget also anticipates a 1 percent Hiwassee Utility Commission water rate increase that would be passed through to consumers.

The proposed budget assumes the same revenue as the current year, Webb said.

"The budget is based on historical averages for projected revenues," Webb said. "Those can be greatly influenced by weather and economic issues."

Based on a monthly average of 6,000 gallons for both water and sewer, an average family of four would receive a monthly bill of $53.27, according to Cleveland Utilities. That's still lower than Chattanooga, Knoxville, Dayton and Athens.

about Randall Higgins...

Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...

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