By MATT KOESTERS
As expected, the Clarksville Town Council voted to acknowledge the introduction of ordinances that would increase the rates on stormwater and wastewater utilities Monday. But what wasn’t expected was an 11th-hour change to the stormwater fee structure.
The original proposal being considered by the council for stormwater rates included a flat monthly fee of $2.55 for residential customers and a fee per estimated residential unit, or ERU, of $3.45. Instead, Councilman John Gilkey motioned that the flat fee be eliminated and the ERU fee be increased to $4.05, and Gilkey’s motion carried 4-2. Councilmen Don Tetley and Bob Popp voted against Gilkey’s proposal. Council President Bob Polston was absent from the meeting.
“We’re talking about increasing the monthly fee to town residents, and we’ve got people who are on fixed income who routinely have to worry about, do I go out and buy food, buy medicine or pay this bill?” Gilkey said. “I think we need to think about those people. It is a cost of doing business to treat the stormwater runoff from a commercial property, the same as the cost of paying for police protection or fire protection, any other municipal service.”
Popp said that there had been agreement amongst the council members on the rate increases after two separate work-session discussions and that he would have preferred to see an analysis of Gilkey’s proposal performed by H.J. Umbaugh & Associates, the accounting firm hired by the town, prior to voting for it.
“You have to be careful that if you get these rates on the businesses at such an extreme amount, it’s going to be very difficult to bring in new businesses,” said Popp, who is also president of the Clarksville Redevelopment Commission. “And of course, what I’m especially interested in right now is the Colgate area. Will this have a negative effect on the ... 125 acres that are down there that can be developed?”
The council’s vote on the introduction of the wastewater utility rate increase passed unanimously. The proposed new average rate will be $37.60, based on 4,000 gallons used per month, according to attorney Rebecca Lockard. The current average rate is $22.33, according to documents prepared for the town by Umbaugh. The previous proposed rate after the increase was $47, but was based on 5,000 gallons of monthly use.
The council also approved the introduction of an ordinance for the issuance of bonds to pay for new treatment facilities. Public hearings for all three items will be held Aug. 5.
Look for more on how the changes to the stormwater proposal will impact local residents and businesses in an upcoming edition of the News and Tribune.