Council hears latest on Corps’ Water Reallocation efforts, gets first look at proposed budget

Posted May 11, 2017 at 10:47 am

Albany City Council held its regular meeting last Tuesday, May 3, and with all members present, heard some positive news pertaining to recent steps by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to charge water users for water drawn from Lake Cumberland.

Albany Mayor Nicky Smith presented council members a correspondence received earlier in the week from First District Congressman James Comer’s office, relaying information that Congress had recently passed legislation reinstating the prohibition on the Corps of Engineers from continuing its “Water Supply Reallocation Study.”

Mayor Smith said, at least for now, the funding for the Corps study remains halted and he thanked the Congressman, as well as U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul, for keeping the study from being funded.

In recent years, the Corps of Engineers has attempted to require all customers who draw water from Lake Cumberland to pay an amount proportionate to the amount each customer uses, including industrial and all municipalities in the region that get water from the lake. Albany is one of those cities that draw water from Lake Cumberland.

Jim Goldstein, Legislative Director in the congressman’s office, emailed the mayor noting, “In the Omnibus bill that was released…there is language to reinstate the prohibition of the Corps of Engineers continuing its Water Supply Reallocation Study.”

The section prohibiting the study, SEC. 107 states, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to carry out any water supply reallocation study under the Wolf Creek Dam, Lake Cumberland, Kentucky, project authorized under the Act of July 24, 1946.”

Should the Corps be allowed to charge municipalities fees to use water from the lake, it would in all likelihood force all those cities to increase water rates to pay for the added cost.

The council also heard an update from Kenneth Delk with the Albany Water Department pertaining to the water tank project in the Bald Rock area. Delk said the smaller tank is currently under construction and hopefully will be operational by early next month.

In the meantime, Monarch Engineers continue to do studies and cost estimates on a possible large-scale overhaul of water lines in the entire eastern section of the county, including the Duvall Valley and Bald Rock areas that may see new, larger lines run to residents in that area, some of which experience low water pressure problems, especially during summer months.

The council voted to approve a resolution for the city to participate in a cooperative program with the Kentucky Department of Rural Municipal (road) Aid. This allows the department to withhold three percent of municipal road aid funds which could be used if necessary, but in reserve in case needed in emergencies.

The council then voted to declare a 2000 Crown Victoria as surplus property and advertise for bids, setting a minimum of $1,000 on the vehicle.

The council was then presented a copy of the proposed 2017-18 fiscal year budget of $4,021,000, approximately $200,000 above the current year’s total. The council will review the budget and propose any changes prior to first reading, which is expected to take place at its next regular meeting.

Other general items of business were discussed, including an application for a matching fund grant for $90,000 that would help purchase up to five additional cruisers for the police department.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for June 6 at 5 p.m. at city hall and is open to the general public.