Vine Grove planning and zoning administrator Chris Mayhew issued a warning Monday night during a Vine Grove City Council meeting.
“If we don’t plan now to do some increases on capacity of the sewer plant, quite literally we are almost at a breaking point where all construction will be stopped,” he said.
Mayhew’s comments came as the council was discussing an increase to the city’s sewage rates. Under the new rates, the first 1,000 gallons of sewer water used would cost $9.82, an increase from $8.54. For every 100 gallons more than 1,000 gallons, the new price would be 63 cents, an increase from 55 cents. If approved, the increased rates would begin with the June billing cycle.
Mayhew said the capacity of the city’s sewage plant needs to be increased or the city’s population growth will “come to a screeching halt” and millions of dollars will be needed to expand the plant.
Recommendations for the increase came from a Kentucky Rural Water Association study which suggested the city increase its sewer and water rates by 15 percent which would allow the city to go from its current break-even status to increased revenue of around $130,000 by 2020.
Mayor Pam Ogden said the additional money would be used to fix the city’s infrastructure as opposed to hiring new employees. “We don’t need to hire employees, we need to fix meters,” Ogden said.
Councilwoman Donna Spangenberger, who made the motion for the first reading of the increase, said it was a necessity.
“I pay a ton of water bills here in Vine Grove. I don’t want to see my rates go up, but we have to go up,’’ Spangenberger said. “I mean, you can’t run a sewer system on (a) 1980s ... shoestring budget, when we’re in 2019.”
Ogden said the water rate increase would be presented to the council during the next meeting, citing further examination of the increase. She declined to specify on what would need to be examined.
Ogden also announced conversations regarding Hardin County Water District No. 1 purchasing Vine Grove’s water and sewer services have ceased and the city will continue operating its own water and sewer services.
“We just couldn’t come to an agreement on price,” she said following the meeting. “It was a mutual agreement to stop discussion.”
A vote will be held during the second reading, likely during the next city council meeting.