By MATT KOESTERS
The Clarksville Town Council gave its preliminary approval to bond and rate ordinances to make way for the construction of the town’s new wastewater treatment plant at its meeting Monday.
“We’re at a critical time now,” said Rebecca Lockard, a town-employed attorney. “The board cannot delay this any longer.”
The rate increases are necessary to service the bonds needed to fund the project. Clarksville sewer bills are expected to raise by 77 percent. The average bill, which is currently $27.95 for 667 cubic feet of usage, is expected to go to $49.47. The current stormwater utility bill in Clarksville averages $2.95, but will go to $6 if the increases are approved.
The final sewer rates will be set when bids for construction are received, which are due June 27, said Project Coordinator Brittany Montgomery.
The ordinances will be introduced at a meeting July 15. Public hearings on the rate increases and passage of the ordinances will likely take place on Aug. 6, Lockard said.
Previous estimates had put Clarksville’s new average sewer bill at around $39. But rising bond interest rates and construction costs made that impossible to achieve, Lockard said.
“We’ve been putting it off and trying to get [the rates] as low as we possibly could get it, and it actually cost us, I think, about half a percentage point on our bonds,” Council President Bob Polston said.
“Some of it is due to increased interest costs ... and then some of it is that as we got further into design, that costs have just increased,” Montgomery said. “More work needs to be done both on the wastewater and the stormwater side.”
The preliminary approvals were granted by the council with a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Don Tetley voting against.
TOWN SUPPORTS CLARKFEST 2013
The town council unanimously threw its financial support behind Clarkfest 2013, a parade event being held Sept. 2 by the Eastern Boulevard Business Association.
The council voted to contribute $5,000 to the cause, which will be used to help promote the event. The council also agreed to coordinate road closures and security for the event. The town council also sanctioned Clarkfest 2013 as an official town event for insurance purposes.
“Clarkfest is an opportunity for the town of Clarksville to take pride in who we are, what we are and what we have to offer as a community,” said Councilman John Gilkey. “It is the result of a lot of work on the part of a great many people. Last year’s event came off exceptionally well for the first time in a decade and a half for a festivity like that. Now they’re taking it to the next level this year. I commend them for doing that. It is exceptionally good for Clarksville.”
CITY-TOWN COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS
The Clarksville City-Town Evaluation Committee submitted a draft of its proposed recommendation to the town council on whether or not the town should consider changing its system of government at its meeting Saturday.
The committee’s proposed recommendation supports maintaining Clarksville’s status as a town, but advocates changing the town’s form of government to a system whereby the current town council would hire a town manager “to provide full-time leadership and operational management” for the town.
The committee based its recommendation on three factors: Whether additional revenue would be available to Clarksville if it became a city; whether a city has means to reduce expenses that are not available to a town; and whether full-time leadership and operational management would be available to Clarksville only if it changed to a city structure.
“We did not find that any of these critical drives for a change exist,” the committee wrote in its proposed recommendation.
The recommendation is not yet final, though. The committee will hold a public meeting on July 9 to review its findings with the public before finalizing the report and submitting it to the council.
“I have asked the committee, and they have agreed to hold a minimum of one community meeting, because at the outset we told the public that we were going to gather information about the benefits of both systems, the differences, and present it to the public and get their input,” said Gilkey, who is the council’s liaison to the committee. “These recommendations as they are set up right now bypass that particular step in the process, and I think the committee has recognized that and decided they’re going to go back and do at least one public meeting where we educate people, talk about the differences, get their input and then go back and revisit [to] make sure this is what the committee wants to do.”
The issue of re-examining the town’s form of government arose from the issue of districtwide versus townwide voting, which was debated by the council last year. Polston said he is not aware of any effort on the council to revisit the issue.