Price of Water and Sewer Increase for Dandridge Water Customers

Dandridge Water Customers will soon see an increase on their water bill. Dandridge Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-2 ( Depew, Nelson NO, Reese Absent) to increase the cost of water by 5% and sewer by 15% for all customers. The move came after Town and Water Department Administration recommended a 10% hike for water and 15 % increase for sewer to alleviate concerns that the Dandridge Water Department might not show a profit for the fiscal year, as current numbers had it showing around a $12 profit margin. Town Administrator Peagler and Water Superintendent Norton cautioned that if the department went two years without showing a profit, the state could come in and set the rates.

Preceding the Kesterson/Chambers motion that ushered in the increase, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen had lengthy discussion on the issue. Alderman Depew, who was vocal in his opposition to an increase during the work session maintained his stance in the voting meeting. He noted that a 15% increase in sewer, which according to Norton is undercharged, would bring in almost twice the profit of the last fiscal year. And, while it was not the $300,000 being encouraged by auditors, it did meet the state mandate of bringing in a profit and would produce $104,000. Alderman Kesterson offered his concern that a sewer-only increase is largely on the citizens inside the city limits of Dandridge and no other customers would be shouldering the increase. Alderman Chamber’s view on the issue aligned with Kesterson’s concern, while Aldermen Nelson and Elder voiced concerns about passing the buck to other generations.

Depew said that he would not ask customers to accept an increase in their water rates until issues with discoloration that has plagued the water since the change of distributors to KUB is resolved. He made a motion to increase sewer rates by 15% but leave water at its current rate, noting that the water rate issue could be revisited when the discoloration issue is cleared up. Kesterson 2nd the motion for the purpose of discussion. Depew’s motion failed 5-1 with Alderman Depew being the only affirmative vote. Kesterson and Chambers followed with their 5% water and 15% sewer rate increase, noting that the motion was a compromise of sorts. Alderman Nelson spoke in favor of the recommendation of the Administration, and it was noted that the projected $12 profit included debt service on the current $1.5 million dollar project. The approved rate increase will bring in just north of $150,000, which is almost three times the profit of the last fiscal year.

Source: K. Depew, News Director

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