The Cumberland City Council approved an ordinance putting in place higher water rates during a recent meeting.
Council member David Dixon expressed his opinion concerning the rate increase.
“I’m not going to say I’m against this water rate increase, because I’m really not,” Dixon said. “But, I know that water rate has something to do with your sewer rate…if we raise the water rate, are we not supposed to do some type of correlating rate charge to the sewer?”
Mayor Charles Raleigh explained there are different circumstances this time around.
“The reason I didn’t bring up the sewer is because it’s in the process of being taken over by the utilities board,” Raleigh said. “But you are correct. There is some variation there, but I don’t want to tackle it until they take it over…they will ultimately make the decision on what that rate will be.”
Raleigh said for now the sewer rates will remain unchanged. He then advised council why the water rates should be raised.
“It is up to (the council) ultimately,” Raleigh said. “When you sit down and look at the bills…if you want to get caught up…these are a must. Or, you will have to choose other alternatives such as downsizing your staff.”
Raleigh explained the city is already operating with a skeleton crew.
Council member asked about outstanding water accounts, suggesting if those were collected a rate increase may not be necessary.
“I can only tell you what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in this office,” Raleigh said. “I can’t help what happened in the past. I am making these people pay the bills; I am pulling them out of the ground. We actually had one guy that destroyed a meter because we locked it out. If you think I’m not doing what I’m supposed to be doing, you’re wrong.”
Bush explained the situation pre-dates Raleigh’s appointment as mayor.
“I’m not bad mouthing any mayor,” Bush said. “But…if somebody owes us $1,000 it should have never gotten to that point.”
After some further discussion, the council approved a second reading of an ordinance amending the water user charges for the city.
The ordinance sets the rate for the first 2,000 gallons inside the city at $19.25. Outside the city the rate will be set at $24.25 for the first 2,000 gallons and inside the city commercial rates will be set at $19.29 for the first 2,000 gallons. A separate ordinance approved by council adjusts the water user service charge from $16 per month to $21 per month.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde