Work ready to begin on Vine Grove water line project

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Council discusses possible increase in water, sewer rate at meeting

By Gina Clear

Work is ready to begin in Vine Grove on its water infrastructure by the beginning of April.

Mayor Blake Proffitt told city council during Monday night’s meeting that contracts for the $1.17 million project to refurbish the water system paid for by a Base Realignment and Closure grant are signed and pipes are staged around town. Besides replacing several 2-inch galvanized water mains throughout the city, the project also includes replacing valves, developing looping in some areas to increase water flow, fixing setters and updating fire hydrants.

The contract was awarded to Horsley Construction, Inc. and Proffitt said the company is building fire hydrants and hydrant valves at its shop so when weather clears, they can “‘get going faster.”‘

To install the pipes, Proffitt said the company will use a directional boring system where the pipes will be pushed through preexisting trenches rather than digging up driveways and rights-of-way.

The project should take about six months to complete.

After the announcement, the council addressed the possibility of raising water and sewer rates. An auditor from Kentucky Rural Water Association evaluated the current system at the city’s request.

According to Proffitt and the audit, the city’s water and sewer system has been operating at a deficit the last two years. The last time the council raised water and sewer rates was in 2007.

To cover the costs, the city pulled from its reserves.

“‘The water and sewer is not making any money,”‘ Proffitt told the council. “‘This has to be addressed.”‘

The recommendation from the auditor was to increase water rates at 5 percent and sewer rates by 10 percent, to simplify rates for customers by using whole dollar amounts and to institute an automatic annual rate adjustment based on the consumer price index.

Currently, residents are paying $24.68 for every 4,000 gallons per month for water and $22.76 per month for sewer. The rates could increase to $26 for every 4,000 gallons per month for water and $27 per month for sewer, if the council votes for the suggestions.

“‘None of us want to raise rates, but it has to be done,”‘ said Councilwoman Donna Betson.

Councilwoman Kathy Sisco questioned whether the rate increases would cover increases from the water district and repair costs.

Councilman Garry McCoy took issue with an automatic rate increase.

“‘I’d rather we keep it in our hands,”‘ he said.

Proffitt said he’s asked for the increase the last two years and the council has not allowed it.

Councilman Kristofor King maintained there’s a difference between the proposed automatic rate adjustment and automatic rate increase.

“‘This is an automatic rate adjustment based on the consumer price index,”‘ King said. “‘The rate could go up, down or stay the same. It’s not an automatic increase.”‘

Sisco and Betson also noted the council can vote not to allow for the rate adjustment each year.

After discussion, the council requested that Proffitt attempt to bring in the auditor to the next council meeting to further discuss his report and answer questions.

The next scheduled city council meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 7 in the community room at Vine Grove City Hall.

Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1746 or gclear@thenewsenterprise.com.