The city of Evarts approved a required 4 percent raise in the city’s water rates for the next fiscal year during a meeting on May 26.
The rate increase is necessary to comply with guidelines set down in order for the city to receive a loan from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority for a water supply well and treatment plant refurbishing project.
“If we don’t do the loan, we’re not going to have enough water,” Mayor Eddie Manning said while discussing the loan terms during the council’s April meeting. “We’re going to continue to struggle to keep enough water in the plant.”
During the May meeting, Manning asked City Clerk Kristi Lamb to update the council on the situation.
“We’ve not had a rate increase since 2008,” Lamb said. “Prior to 2008, it was 1999. Other municipalities are doing a constant increase every year or two years…and when they do their increase across the board it also effects their wholesale rate.”
Lamb proposed a rate increase totaling 10 percent to take place in small increments over the course of six years.
“The four percent we have to do,” said Lamb. “We have to have that KIA money and that’s what they want us to do…I’m proposing that ordinance reads an across the board increase every July for the next five years thereafter.”
Lamb pointed out the rate increase would take place in July and raise rates inside the city for the first 2,000 gallons from $15 to $15.60. The rate would go to $15.76 in 2017, $15.92 in 2018, $16.08 in 2019, $16.24 in 2020 and $16.24 in 2021.
“We’re not going to raise the city without raising outside the city,” Lamb said. “Currently, its $17.75 outside the city for the first 2,000 gallons. After that 4 percent increase, it will be $18.46. After that it goes up one percent each year ending up at $19.40.”
The city’s rate to the Black Mountain Utility District would increase to $2.60 in July, and over the course of six years top out at $2.75, Lamb said.
“Nobody wants to do a rate increase, let’s be honest about it,” Lamb said. “Every year…call it cost of living — everything goes up but our rates. I hate to have to raise them.”
Lamb pointed out water is a large part of the city’s income.
“The water is our cash cow,” Lamb said. “Our water is what employees the majority of our employees…we want to keep them working. If we don’t keep money coming in, we can’t keep paying it out.”
Manning said that even with the increase, Evarts water rates are still some of the best in the state.
After some lengthy discussion, the council passed a motion to increase the city’s water rate 4 percent to take effect on the July 10 bill. The rate will increase by 2 percent in July of 2017, and 1 percent increases will take effect every July from 2018 through 2021. The increase will be a total of 10 percent over the course of six years.
Anybody with questions regarding the water rate increase is encouraged to call Evarts City Hall at 606-837-2477.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde.