CLARKSVILLE — The Clarksville City Council agreed to raise water and sewer base rates $2.50 each at Tuesday night’s meeting to cover the loan for the upcoming water project.
“It would be nice if things were more like the old days,” Councilman Gary Gray said, “But things will not go back to the old days.”
The council has been working on the $6.5 million water project for a few years now. Right now, the city’s legal team is in the process of verifying ownership of different aspects of the project, which is taking quite a bit of time, Mayor Ann Rushing said.
The city also will take out a 40-year loan to cover part of the costs. Gray said the city will soon have to start making payments, and at this point it’s not known if it will have the money to cover the loan payment. He compared it to people paying for milk.
“They’re looking all around this city and feeling like they’re getting half a gallon of milk,” Gray said. “I’ve talked with people, and they don’t mind paying a little more for the full gallon.”
The proposed increase would be $2.50 to the base water and sewer rates and an extra $2 for excess, he said. The money raised will be $162,392, which will cover the note payment each year.
The water project will cover a new water well, maintenance of the existing well and storage tanks, replacement of leaking water pipes, the installation of new water meters along with other water system improvements. With the improvements, the city can get back its “superior” water rating, Rushing said.
It’s also expected that the new meters will more accurately reflect water usage, expected to be much higher than currently accounted for, which could mean more money flowing into the city. But, Gray said, the city doesn’t know that for sure yet, and it only has two ways of raising money: water and sewer rates or ad valorem taxes. And until the new meters are in and the city knows for sure what its revenue increase will be, a water rate raise is reasonable to cover the cost of the loan.
W.F. “Babe” Higgins agreed something needed to be done, but he would like the option to revise it at a later date.
“You can’t run a business in 2021 on what your business paid in 2005,” he said. “I just want to make sure people can afford it.”
The council agreed to raise the rate at the proposed amounts.
The council also agreed to authorize a change order for street repairs with an additional $24,000 to maintain some city roads. The city’s engineer made the presentation that the company hired for the 2021 street improvements project — Gist Enterprises — would hold the contracted prices for the city and the city could get a lot more done with allocations from the streets budget.
The project will include repairs to Broadway Street, but also seal coats to maintain roads that aren’t in that bad of a condition. Rushing said the city also has to “take care of what you have” because playing defense all the time just leads to only the worst roads getting repaired.
Higgins, who is also a member of the Clarksville Economic Development Corp., asked the engineer if he could get a priority list of all the roads that needed fixing in the city. He said after reviewing it with the board for the EDC, there are rules in place that would allow the group to offer some sales tax money to repair roads next year.
The council agreed to the change order and additional money for street repairs.