published Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Soddy-Daisy to handle Lookout Mountain sewage bills

Residents of Lookout Mountain, Ga., will have their sewage billing handled by the Soddy-Daisy-Falling Water Utility District now that Tennessee American Water has stopped providing the service.

The Lookout Mountain City Council voted to hire the Tennessee utility for a one-year trial period.

The roughly 700 customers in the Georgia city can expect their bills to increase, officials say.

Soddy-Daisy-Falling Water will charge 75 cents for each monthly bill it processes, up from 40.5 cents per month per customer that Tennessee American had been charging. Officials at Tennessee American, a publicly traded company, said its costs were higher than what it was charging.

The exact increase that Lookout Mountain customers will see isn't yet certain because the 30.5 cent difference doesn't include a number of other expenses that the city will incur once Tennessee American stops offering sewage billing on Oct. 31.

For example, the city must pass along the price of postage and the cost of card stock on which sewage bills are printed, City Clerk Cindy Roberts said.

"There's going to be a lot of little costs that have to be addressed," she said.

Lookout Mountain sewage customers will have a variety of choices as to how to pay their bill, including via the Internet or through automatic withdrawal, she said, both of which could reduce the city's overall expense.

As the public utility that provides water to about 4,600 customers in Soddy-Daisy and its outlying areas, Soddy-Daisy-Falling Water doesn't make a profit, General Manager David Callahan said.

Lookout Mountain officials asked the Soddy-Daisy utility to make a proposal to do its sewage billing after Tennessee American decided last June to get out of the third-party billing business.

"We were asked by them to give them a quote," Callahan said. "They ... called us."

No contract will be signed between the Georgia city and the Soddy-Daisy-Falling Water Utility District for the one-year trial period.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties 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. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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