published Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Kimball, Tenn., board plans to raise commercial sewer rates

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- A hefty sewer rate increase in one Marion County town is having far-reaching consequences in another.

City leaders in South Pittsburg, Tenn., raised sewer rates recently by 40 percent. The escalation will affect Kimball because that town uses South Pittsburg's sewer system, too.

"As far as our residential costs, the way our ordinance is set up [the increase] automatically flows over [to them]," Kimball Mayor David Jackson said.

Businesses in Kimball, on the other hand, pay the city a sewer fee, and the city pays South Pittsburg for that usage.

Right now, Kimball charges a minimum commercial rate of $70 per month, and officials said there has not been an increase in that rate since 2003.

The Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously on Thursday to change the city's ordinance to reflect a $100 minimum bill for all businesses hooked to the sewer system.

That represents a nearly 43 percent sewer fee increase.

The board will vote on the first reading of the ordinance at its Nov. 7 meeting. The board meets at 6 p.m. CST.

If approved, the increase will take effect Jan. 1, Jackson said.

"It's hard to do this, but that's part of business sometimes," he said.

Kimball Alderman Mark Payne said city leaders have "known for some time" that rate increases were coming because of the problems South Pittsburg has faced with its wastewater facility in recent years.

He agreed that a "direct pass-through" of the increase to businesses was appropriate because the city will have to have the funds to cover the fee increases South Pittsburg will charge starting this month.

"I hate that," Payne said.

City leaders considered raising the minimum bill to $90 or $95 per month, but Vice Mayor Rex Pesnell said he didn't think Kimball should "back up" on the increase for businesses.

"I think we should just go ahead and do the same thing [to businesses] as what they've done to residents," he said. "It's hard enough [for the city] to pay [the sewer fees] now. I don't like it either, but I know we can't afford to back up and take that hit."

Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at ryanlewis34@gmail.com.

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