published Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Kimball board approves plan to avoid rate increase

Mark Payne, of Marion County, Tenn.
Mark Payne, of Marion County, Tenn.
Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

KIMBALL, Tenn. -- In an effort to avoid a sewer rate increase for local businesses and residential customers, city officials have come up with a creative plan to alleviate the town's sewer fund problems.

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

Alderman Mark Payne said in June that, if the board did nothing this budget year, Kimball "could face the possibility of [the state] forcing us to raise our customers' rates."

"We don't need that," he said.

Even though Kimball has money in its general fund to help, state officials frown on moving money from the general fund straight to the sewer fund to keep it in the black, Kimball Mayor David Jackson said in June.

Last month, the Kimball Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved unanimously a new ordinance that amends previous ordinances concerning the city's sewer rates.

"What this ordinance will do is levy a surcharge for each municipal building that is hooked to the city sewer," Jackson said.

The $800 fee on each of the six city buildings tied to the sewer will generate $4,800 per month for the ailing sewer fund, officials said.

"We'll create an invoice for the sewer fund which will then be sent to the general fund," Jackson said. "Then we'll write a check out of the general fund back to the sewer fund."

The money generated from the plan will cover the current depreciation on the city's sewer system which is about $43,000 per year, officials said.

With plans to add a new pump station and additional sewer lines, the depreciation costs will only increase in the next few years.

Jackson said the plan will put $57,600 back into the sewer fund over the next budget year.

"Hopefully this will stabilize [the sewer fund] better than what we've had the last couple of years," he said.

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