City council takes first step that could result in $3 monthly water bill hike

Posted April 12, 2017 at 8:56 am

Albany City Council has approved, on a split vote, first reading of an ordinance that would slightly increase water rates for city and county water customers. The action was taken at the council’s regular meeting last Tuesday, April 4. Four of six members were on hand.

Near the end of the 35-minute meeting, Albany Mayor Nicky Smith recommended the council consider raising the cost of water for all water system customers by 10 cents a day, or approximately $3 per month on the average monthly bill.

The measure also calls for the annual cost-of-living hike to go from 1.5 percent to 2.5 percent. The increase has to be done by city ordinance, with last week’s action being the first reading.

There was little discussion on the issue prior to a vote being taken. Councilman Leland Hicks made the motion to approve the ordinance on first reading, which was seconded by councilman Carl Ferguson. On a role call vote, the council was split, with council members Frankie Stockton and Tony Delk voting no. Mayor Smith broke the tie with a yes vote. Council members Tonya Thrasher and Steve Lawson were absent from the meeting.

A second reading is required to be passed prior to the ordinance taking effect, with second reading to be held at a later date.

At the start of the meeting, Tiffany Kessler, Tompkinsville-based field representative for first-term First District Congressman James Comer, introduced herself to the council and offered any assistance from the congressman’s office that the city may be in need of. She also noted he would be holding some 35 town hall meetings across the district in the coming weeks, with one to be scheduled in Albany soon.

Kenneth Delk with the Albany Water Department gave a brief update on the Bald Rock water project, noting the smaller tank being installed to help alleviate low water pressure was being constructed and should be up and in operation by early summer, before hot weather.

Due to the number of poultry houses in the area, which uses much more water in summer months, it is that time when residents seem to have the most problems with low pressure.

Delk also noted that Monarch Engineers were continuing to do their study, trying to come up with funding sources, for a total overall of water distribution in the southeastern area of the county, including adding a large storage tank and replacing existing water lines with larger lines.

Mayor Smith then informed the council that the Lake Cumberland Area Development District has filed a grant application on the city’s behalf, which if funded, would allow the city to install up to 35 new fire hydrants to be placed throughout the city, replacing hydrants that no longer work or are in poor condition.

The council then entered into a 20 minute closed session to discuss personnel but took no action upon returning to open session.

After the executive session, Albany Police Chief Ernest Guffey requested the council approve an interlocal agreement which would basically involve four law enforcement agencies in regards to patrolling in the Lake Cumberland State Park area, which borders Clinton and Cumberland counties.

The agreement, which apparently would be between the Albany and Burkesville Police Department and Clinton and Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department, would in essence allow each agency to patrol the area across county lines when assistance from one county is needed or requested from the other.

The council, on a motion by councilman Delk, voted unanimously to authorize the mayor to sign any documents needed in relation to the joint agreement.

The council also discussed looking into trying to find a solution to a water ponding problem at a residence on Central Street and putting up Children at Play signs on Dalton Street.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for May 2.