East Ridge City Manager William Whitson said there's a better way to repair the Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority's system than the proposed $8 fee.
At the City Council meeting Thursday, Mr. Whitson said he plans to propose an alternative to the controversial inspection and repair plan that could cost East Ridge's about 10,000 WWTA customers an additional $8 a month for 20 years.
"After just a quick study of the issue, it doesn't seem inherently fair what's about to happen," he said.
Mr. Whitson said the authority could enact a more moderate fee of $2 or $3 and ask residents to pay for necessary repairs themselves. Those who cannot afford to, he said, could apply for grant money through a program such as the Community Development Block Grant. The money collected in fees could be used to attract matching funds to offset the costs for low-income residents, according to Mr. Whitson.
A similar program enacted by Volusia County, Fla., helped offset costs for about 2,000 residents to abandon their septic systems, he said.
The proposed fee is a response to a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation order requiring the authority to keep rainwater out of the sewer system. The authority is expected to discuss the issue at a special meeting on Wednesday.
Councilman Tom Card, who represents East Ridge on the WWTA board, said he won't be able to attend the meeting and asked Mr. Whitson to offer his recommendation on the city's behalf. He also said the authority was lobbying in Nashville for leniency from TDEC.