At least one local water utility has told the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority that it has to spend money to make money.
"If they make changes in their programming, we have to get reimbursed," said Carolyn Hickman, office manager at Hixson Utility District. "We don't charge anything to make any money off of it."
* May 2008: The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority approves a plan including the $8 fee for gravity sewer customers
* June 2008: Public outcry leads the authority board to postpone the implementation of the fee and hold several public meetings
* September 2008: Authority board OKs fee plan and 6 percent rate increase
* March 2009: Authority board allows staff to establish a start date for fee
* April 2009: Authority staff announces fee will begin May 1
Local water companies do the billing for the authority. The amounts of customers' sewer bills are based on water usage.
At this week's authority board meeting, Chairman Phil Smartt noted that one utility was asking for $13,000 to include the new $8 monthly fee the authority is adding as a separate line item on customers' bills starting May 1.
"That's just ridiculous as far as I'm concerned," Mr. Smartt said.
Cleveland Grimes, the authority's executive director, said it was Hixson that had asked for that amount but said the charges aren't finalized.
Ms. Hickman said the additional line item will require quite a bit of computer programming.
Not all the county's utilities are seeking such reimbursement.
Joe Barrows, general manager at Savannah Valley Utility District, said, "The software that we use will allow us to do (the additional billing)."
Don Stafford of Eastside Utility District said his district doesn't charge anything to do the billing.
Mr. Grimes said the authority anticipated the extra charges and included administrative costs in the $8 fee plan.
Under the plan, which the authority calls its Private Service Lateral Program, the authority will inspect and repair pipes that go from customers' homes to the main sewer line. The plan's intent is to eliminate rainwater infiltration into the county's sewer system.
The plan affects 24,000 or so gravity sewer customers in East Ridge, Red Bank, Soddy-Daisy, Signal Mountain, Lookout Mountain, Lakesite, Ridgeside and unincorporated parts of Hamilton County.