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City water rates to increase

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City hopes 3-percent rate increase will help repair faulty water system

By Franklin Clark

The city will undertake a $4.3 million project to fix a sludge problem at the Campbellsville Water Treatment Plant, which the city hopes to fund via the automatic 3-percent increase in water and sewer rates that the Council approved in 2015.

Council member David Nunery said the debt service would be $171,544 a year, and the Council need not take any action for the increase to take place at the beginning of the new fiscal year.

By a vote of 7-4, council members voted to seek funding to build two sludge clarifiers and purchase a press apparatus, a project estimated to cost $4,362,000.

Voting for the application were Council members Nunery, James Ewing, Jay Eastridge, Alexander Shively, Randy Herron, Sharon Hoskins-Sanders and Allen Johnson.

Voting against were Council members Mike Hall, Patti Phillips, Dianne Ford-Benningfield and Greg Rice.

Nevertheless, the city will apply for the Kentucky League of Cities loan. But the city might not be on the hook for the entire $4.3 million.

“The project has to do with solids that are becoming more burdensome to us, primarily the result of algae that is increasing at Green River Lake,” said Nunery.

According to David Bowles of Monarch Engineering, the city has $330,000 left over from a U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development grant for the water tank project at Taylor Regional Hospital and $420,000 left over from a Kentucky Infrastructure Authority State Revolving Fund grant for the Lebanon water project.

The city also has $980,000 left over from a KIA SRF loan, also from the Lebanon water project, said Bowles.

The sludge disrupts wastewater treatment plant operations because it’s so light and fluffy that it floats through the plant, causing violations of the city’s effluent standards, said Bowles.

Hall asked Bowles if they had looked at less expensive ways to fix the problem. In particular, he wondered if they had considered loading the sludge in two semi-trailers and hauling it to the Wastewater Treatment Plant, which has the necessary equipment.

“It’s so cumbersome and it’s so many loads,” Bowles said. “We’re talking about 500,000 gallons, and if you move that from the water plant to the sewer plant, there’s not a good place to put it at the sewer plant, either.”

Hall also asked about putting it in the settling tank, adding that another engineer told him it could work. Bowles told him it couldn’t be made to work; said the two proposed clarifiers have a capacity of 1 million gallons, while the existing tank has a 300,000-gallon capacity.

The city is using a temporary solution in the form of a portable press. Bowles noted that they use the temporary solution for a few days a month.

While it takes care of the sludge problem, the solution costs the city $150,000 a year and compromises 40 percent of the water plant’s capacity, said Bowles.

Bowles recommended that the city build two large cylindrical clarifiers – each of which will hold 500,000 gallons – at the water plant, and use the city maintenance building to house the belt press.

Nunery said the company is under an agreed order with the Kentucky Division of Water because of problems like this.

 

In other business

No action was taken, but Rice said they want Campbellsville City Attorney John Miller to draw up a new contract with the Sportsman Club, which leases City Lake from the city.

“The Sportsman Club is a non-profit, private corporation organized and existing to promote participation in and providing facilities for sporting activities such as fishing,” said Rice. “The Taylor County Sportsman’s Club has been, instrumental in the maintenance and development of the City Lake.“

The agreement the city currently has with the club is dated Sept. 7, 1982, according to Rice, who added that the club is rewriting its bylaws.

Rice also said the Soil Conservation Office contacted him, offering grant money for improvements to the lake.

Nunery said he’s gotten several hopeful phone calls about expanded recreational opportunities at the City Lake.

During the public comments portion, Jody Harmon, who wants to open a paddleboat business at the lake, asked for the lake rules to be changed. Currently, all business requests have to go through the Sportsman Club.

“Everything has to go through them, be approved by them and basically be run by them,” said Harmon. “The Sportsman Club wants to be in charge of my business. They’re saying they want everybody that rents a boat from me … to be a member of the Sportsman Club. I don’t see how that could be feasible.”

Harmon said he has three paddleboats ready to be used, and they wouldn’t have a footprint on the lake itself.

• Council members voted unanimously to extend their contract with Comcast for another six months so that they can renegotiate their franchise with the cable company.

“Several things … are up in the air with cable franchises right now,” said Shively. “We haven’t had enough time to look at the issue and look at what we want to ask Comcast for. And typically, these renewals are 10-15 years.”

The franchise agreement the city has with Comcast was set to expire on April 9, the day before the council meeting. The extension agreement would be in place until a permanent contract can be signed. The current agreement is still binding until a new agreement is reached, Comcast representative Matt Kelley said at a previous meeting.

At that recent meeting, Kelley and Shively both said they aren’t able to regulate internet service via this agreement because of Federal Communications Commission regulations.

“This is strictly about cable TV service,” said Kelley. “It does not involve voice or internet.”

A franchise fee is currently allowed by the agreement, but since state courts are deliberating on whether franchise fees are legal, the city currently doesn’t get any franchise fees. The current contract allows for a 5-percent franchise fee. While Kentucky Revised Statute 136 allows for franchise fees, the status of those fees has yet to be decided by a Kentucky Supreme Court case.

Decades ago, only cable paid companies franchise fees; other providers like satellite companies didn’t have to pay them, so the state legislature wrote KRS 136 about 10 years ago that instituted new taxation that also applied to non-cable providers.

“There’s a lot of regulation that we have no control over,” said Shively.

The current agreement is not exclusive, but attracting competing cable companies has been quite difficult, said Shively.

Taylor County has a separate franchise agreement with Comcast. Renewed in 2012, it expires in 2027, according to Taylor County Judge/Executive Eddie Rogers.

• Council members voted unanimously to purchase blacktopping equipment from Brady Paving – which is going out of business – at a cost of $53,000. The cost includes four pieces of paving equipment.

“The city doesn’t receive a lot of money to repair our roads from the state,” said Campbellsville Mayor Tony Young. “We’ve received as much as $200,000 per year … that number is going down to $180,000.”

The state money Young refers to is municipal aid money.

Young said they can’t get bids to repair and repave roads because they can’t afford to pave an entire street at a time; Brady Paving would typically be the only bid they can get.

Members also voted to hire a new person at the Campbellsville Street Department to use the paver.

Nunery said that by doing the work themselves, they could pay wholesale rates, as opposed to the retail rates they’re paying now, and so could afford to pave more for the same amount of money.

• Campbellsville City Parks Director Bill Brewer talked about improvements being made at Trace Creek Softball Park, including the addition of a new bathroom building.

“Some of the board members and coaches came to us at least two years ago and said they were losing a lot of girl players because the facilities down there … were in bad shape,” said Brewer. “They were losing tournaments, too.”

The bathroom facilities were built last year, and now they’re working on a new concession stand at the softball park, Brewer said.

• By a vote of 9-2, Council members voted for a logo for the water tank at Spurlington. The 1-million-gallon tank itself will say “Campbellsville Water.”

Phillips and Ford-Benningfield both voted no. Phillips wanted the sign to say “Historical Campbellsville,” while Ford-Benningfield said the logo “seems a little boring.”

Shively asked how hard it would be to change the logo if necessary. Young said the cost would be “substantial.”

• Council members unanimously voted to apply for a $100,000 grant to finish paving the Trace-Pitman Greenway.

• With the exception of Terry Keltner, all Council members were present.