City sets tax rates, talks water leaks

Posted September 8, 2020 at 1:35 pm

Albany City Council held its regular monthly meeting Tuesday, September 1 with five of six members present.

The council set the 2020 city tax rates, but spent most of the just over 40 minute meeting discussing water leak issues with S4 Chemical company representatives and employees with the water and sewer departments.

Near the end of the meeting, the council, on a motion by Tony Delk and seconded by Renee York, with discussion, voted unanimously to keep the same tax rates as previous years.

Those rates for 2020 are 18 cents per $100 assessed value on real property and 20 cents on tangible property including motor vehicle and water craft.

Council members then had a long discussion with two representatives of S4 Chemical Company of Bowling Green.

As of last week, city legal advisor Norb Sohm, who was unable to attend last week’s meeting, was reviewing a contract with the company which will offer chemicals for the treatment plant at a lower cost, as well as provide other services to the city, including assisting in finding water line breaks and leaks.

The loss of water due to leaks and line breaks has plagued the city for some time, resulting in a loss of revenue in the city water and sewer departments.

It was noted at the meeting that officials from Kentucky Rural Water were in Albany all last week assisting local water department employees in finding leaks. During the search, it was discovered a two-inch line had burst and had been draining water from the 500 gallon water tank at Bald Rock.

Water department employees also discovered a meter on rental property on U.S. 127 North was being apparently illegally hooked up to obtain water without a bill being paid.

Some council members questioned if individuals got caught stealing water in some form could be charged with theft of service and made to pay for the water obtained illegally.

The S4 representatives also informed the city about Rural Water’s Apprenticeship Program that allows a person to be hired to do nothing but look for water line breaks. The cost would be paid 50 percent by Rural Water.

They also noted that with winter fast approaching, water line breaks would probably become even more frequent.

The representatives also said they had been working with water plant employees and specifically said a new filter system was needed and all repairs to keep the plant upgraded would cost thousands of dollars.

Councilman Tony Delk questioned why, at a previous meeting, did the (city) engineer tell the council there was nothing that could be done to find water line leaks. “If we could cut our water loss in half, maybe Duvall Valley would have water,” Delk said.

The S4 representatives said a mechanized process could be used to help detect leaks and the council agreed to ask officials from Rural Water to attend an upcoming meeting to discuss the water loss problem.

Some council members questioned why some of the leaks were not found before.

David Guffey, an official with the water department, said it was because the department had a lack of manpower to put into searching for the leaks and still do other necessary work.

S4 representatives told the council that Rural Water officials were not there to do the city’s work, but rather train people. It was recommended that hiring an additional person would help.

It was also noted during the discussion that the City of Albany was not the only place where water systems had problems, and some cities are in the same condition.

Also at last week’s meeting:

* Councilwoman Tonya Thrasher asked about the annual Boo Fest in October and questioned other council members whether or not a “drive-thru” location would work or whether or not it should be cancelled altogether due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

No action on the issue was taken.

* Thrasher also proposed a 15 percent water bill discount for senior citizens (those 62 years old or above), and questioned whether or not the city could legally take such action. The issue will apparently have to be researched and no action was taken on the proposal pending further legal information being obtained.

The next regular meeting of Albany City Council is scheduled for October 6 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.