City council votes to increase water prices | News
Hopkinsville City Council met in person on Tuesday night for its first meeting in April to discuss budget amendments, loans, committees and HWEA water tariffs.
Opening the meeting, board member Travis Martin welcomed Associate Pastor, Director of Missions and Outreach, Pastoral and Communications Will Campbell of First United Methodist Church in Hopkinsville to lead the invocation of the meeting.
In previous meetings, council members take turns leading the invocation and adjournment.
Council and the mayor voted to move the meeting closed after approval of the minutes.
Hopkinsville Mayor Wendell Lynch said no action was taken during the closed-door session.
Council heard the first reading of Order 07-2021, HWEA Waste Water Rates.
Board member Chuck Crabtree said the only problem with this ordinance was that HWEA needed $ 3 million for loan funding for their proposed project mentioned at the last Committee of the Whole meeting.
Crabtree explained that after reviewing the order until it was “blue in the face” and still counting that the council would need $ 4.9 million to pay off the $ 3 million loan dollars with an interest rate of 0.7%.
Board member Terry Parker also called HWEA accountant Mellisa Sellers Spurr to answer board questions regarding the order and the rate hikes.
She explained that with the new rate, HWEA and the board are not only covering the amount of the bond, but also the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority’s requirement of $ 2.25 million that must remain in the account for the duration. of the project, which is 38 years old.
“We have to stay in our same financial positions that we are now to make sure that we can hit that $ 1.3 on top of paying that amortization of that loan,” Spurr said.
She also explained that the new rate only covers 50% of depreciation costs of which HWEA will finance the rest.
Adding comments to this discussion, board member Tom Johnson said that even with the tariff increase, HWEA customers will continue to receive world-class water treatment plants while paying 30% of the price. less than other state residents.
HWEA CEO Derrick Watson explained the need to increase rates to cover KIA loan requirements.
“It’s really for the security of the loan,” Watson said.
He also added that KIA requires an amortization rate of 1.3% which must be set aside otherwise KIA will not grant the loan.
Watson explained that the reason the rates are so low for this reason is due to the small projects that HWEA continues to take on using low interest SRS loans.
In all of the projects undertaken by HWEA, Watson said the 0.7% interest loan was the lowest ever offered.
Watson added that previous projects have helped ensure low tariffs for residents and that this project will continue to keep tariffs low in the future when tariffs from other water authorities increase significantly.
He also mentioned that the lowest minimum water bill for HWEA customers is $ 13 per month.
The ordinance was passed on 9-1 with Crabtree’s vote no.
Council also heard another budget amendment whereby $ 50,000 was taken from the general fund to the municipal road fund. The ordinance was adopted unanimously.
In the executive decrees section of the meeting, Lynch presented an order establishing a committee of non-partisan citizens which will provide an opportunity to express their views on the issue / issue of changing the city’s election form in non-partisan or the maintenance of the elections as partisan.
Board member Steve Keel spoke of his concern about not having a timeline for the committee.
“An open-ended committee, I think, might not get the results we’re looking for and I think with the guidance of your office (the mayor’s office) and this council, if we were to encounter a peak in COVID. or some reason they can’t make it happen, we can move those goalposts, ”Keel said.
West said a time constraint might not lead to progress.
“I believe in a time constraint. It is not enough time because it is new in our community. And since it is new in our community, it will be new for these citizens.
West explained that committee members need time to do proper research and come back to the board with unbiased information.
“We cannot afford to impose a shortened time constraint because, to begin with, we have to remember that we are emerging from a pandemic, but we are still in a pandemic. With all the pandemics, people have suffered trauma and we have to understand that, ”West said.
Addressing the two points raised by Keel and West, Lynch asked the board to consider the possibility, after the committee is elected, of the committee coming back to the board with a timeline.
This motion was carried unanimously.
In other council news, Parker referred to remaining funding for small businesses.
Parker told the board there was about $ 30,000 left in the account.
Discussing the number of applicants for the initial program and companies that were not eligible, Parker brought forward a motion to disburse the remaining money between companies eligible for initial funding.
In light of the motion, City of Hopkinsville Clerk Crissy Fletcher told council she could execute a later-style city ordinance based on the action taken at the meeting.
The next Hopkinsville City Council meeting will meet in person on April 20 at 6 p.m. in the Council Chamber. The meeting will also be available to watch online on the city’s Facebook page.