published Monday, June 11th, 2012

Kimball, Tenn., sidesteps sewer rate increase

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- City administrators are looking for creative ways to avoid a sewer rate increase for businesses and residents, and they think they may have found one.

Kimball Mayor David Jackson said the city's sewer fund has lost money for two straight years, and a third year could bring about a state-mandated rate increase.

"You can take money out of a general fund and put it in the sewer fund, but the state is going to call you and tell you not to do that," he said.

To circumvent the state's intervention, city officials plan to pass an ordinance that will charge Kimball's municipal buildings for their sewer usage.

On Thursday, Alderman Mark Payne made a motion to have Kimball Attorney Billy Gouger draft a sewer ordinance and rate schedule concerning the city's municipal buildings, and the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to do so.

The board plans to consider the ordinance at a called meeting at 6 p.m. CDT today.

"That way we get a bill from the sewer fund to the general fund," Jackson said. "We write a check out of the general fund to the sewer fund. What we're looking at doing is writing just enough to cover the depreciation [on the sewer system]."

The current depreciation is about $43,000 per year, officials said, and with plans to add a new pump station and additional sewer lines, the depreciation costs will only increase.

"We lost money last year," Jackson said. "We've lost money this year due to repairs and breakdowns. If you lose money for three years in a row [the state] tells you how you're going to fix it. We hope this will raise enough revenue to keep that from happening."

City administrators said they plan to try this technique "for a couple of years" in an attempt to get the sewer fund back in the black.

"If we don't do something, we could face the possibility of [the state] forcing us to raise our customers' rates," Payne said. "We don't need that."

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