published Friday, December 21st, 2012

Lookout Mountain, Ga., sewer bills go up $15

The 632 residents connected to the Lookout Mountain, Ga., sewer system will start paying an additional $15 monthly fee that takes effect Jan. 1.

The City Council unanimously OK'd the new fee at a 7:30 a.m. Thursday meeting.

The fee hike isn't as high as it could have been.

City officials first pitched the idea of a $19 fee in anticipation of a big rate hike to have its sewage treated at Moccasin Bend in Chattanooga. Officials were worried by reports of the 39 percent rate increase the Hamilton County Water & Wastewater Treatment Authority levied on East Ridge, Signal Mountain, Red Bank and its other member cities -- that also have their sewage treated at Moccasin Bend.

But Lookout Mountain, Ga., doesn't belong to the wastewater authority; it's billed directly by the city of Chattanooga, which only increased the price for Moccasin Bend sewage treatment by 5 percent, from $1.18 per 1,000 gallons to $1.24 per 1,000 gallons.

Still, Lookout Mountain council members wanted to enact the fee to pay for such upgrades to its sewage system as replacement of 55 corroded cast-iron air release valves with stainless steel vales that cost about $700 each and to repair pipes inside the main pump station, which needs $50,000 to $60,000 in work, according to City Manager Brad Haven.

The new fee will generate about $114,000, annually.

If the cost of having sewage treated at Moccasin Bend does increase by a large factor in the future, the City Council may have to review the fee, according to Mayor Bill Glascock.

"If it goes ... up, we'll have to reassess," Glascock said.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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