Cleveland Utilities prepares budget for city officials

Cleveland Utilities prepares budget for city officials

March 22nd, 2013 by Paul Leach in Local Regional News

Ken Webb

Cleveland Utilities General Manager Tom Wheeler.

Photo by Randall Higgins/Times Free Press.

CLEVELAND, Tenn. - Cleveland Utilities has proposed a number of capital projects for the coming fiscal year and beyond.

On Thursday, utility officials discussed budget plans for 2013-14 they will present to Cleveland leaders Monday.

"Capital projects are what drive a lot of numbers that we deal with at Cleveland Utilities," said Ken Webb, vice president of the financial division. "That's a very important part of the budget."

Solid power and water infrastructure are key elements for new residential, commercial and industrial development, said CU President and CEO Tom Wheeler.

"Nothing in this community happens if we don't have utilities functioning at the level that they need to be," Wheeler said. "There's no commerce, there's no schools, there's no nothing. It is important that we keep utilities running like ... a well-tuned machine."

The electric and water divisions are taking steps to get the new Spring Branch Industrial Park, located near exit 20 on Interstate 75, ready for business tenants, department heads said.

Bart Borden, electric division vice president, said power lines will be installed in the coming year. Next is a two-year project to build a new substation near exit 20 to support the industrial park.

He said CU plans to double the transformer capacity of the Ocoee Substation in eastern Cleveland to support expected industrial development along Durkee Road.

Electric and water crews are relocating Durkee Road's power and water lines in conjunction with a Tennessee Department of Transportation project to improve roads serving the new Whirlpool plant.

Also coming in the fiscal year beginning July 1 is the second phase of a project to connect the Eldridge Drive water storage tank near APD-40 to the Hiwassee Utility water plant in northern Bradley County, said Craig Mullinax, water division vice president. The 20-inch pipe now extends to Benton Pike, and the coming year will see it extended to Tasso Lane.

Mullinax said the water division also will begin moving to wireless "smart meters." The electric division converted to smart meters last fall.

SCOPE-10, the utility's 10-year program for "Strategic Commitment to Protect the Environment," will continue as inspection crews monitor sewer lines and manhole covers in the western limits of the city, he said.

The preliminary detection work, which will be followed by repairs, is part of efforts to decrease stormwater leaks into the sewage system.

Even in tough economic times, utilities have to be maintained to a high standard to sustain and promote growth in the community, Wheeler said.