published Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Jasper, Tenn., moves to raise sewer rates to avert state takeover of system

JASPER, Tenn. — Sewer rates are about to go up for Jasper residents.

After meeting with state officials, the Jasper Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted unanimously to increase the current sewer rate by $1 per month on a minimum bill.

Under the new rate, a minimum bill will increase from $8 per month to $9, but a typical monthly sewer bill will increase by about $4, officials said.

"This is something that none of us want to do, but unfortunately, the state of Tennessee has suggested, to put it strongly, that we do this," Mayor Paul Evans said.

The town's sewer fund has lost money over the last two years, he said, and when that happens city leaders are "put on notice" by state officials.

Evans said Jasper's sewer fund hasn't lost a lot of money over the past two years, but it was enough that a third straight year could lead to a state takeover of the city's sewer system.

Alderman Leon Rash said a state takeover could result in residents' current sewer bills doubling or tripling because "it means nothing to [the state]."

"I think it's a proven fact that we do not want the state to come in and set our rates," he said. "So, I think raising it a dollar and watching our expenditures closely is a good deal."

The board's vote was just the first hurdle to get the rate hike in place.

A second reading and vote on the issue will take place at the next board meeting Aug. 12.

"It's something that we have to do," Evans said.

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

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