Wednesday, June 10, 2009

June 10, 2009 Morristown Sewer Rate Increases

The City of Morristown continues the pattern of large increases in sewer fees.

Yesterday, the Mayor and City Council heard a presentation by Lamar Dunn and Associates regarding sewer costs and rate increases for the next three years for sewer customers.

Dunn is recommending that the city increase its sewer rates by just slightly more than 14% in the upcoming fiscal year (7/1/09-6/30/10) and then increase rates by 6.2% the next year (7/1/10-6/30/11) and 2.0% in the 3rd year (7/1/11-6/30/12).

NOTE: Sewer customers who live outside the city limits are "automatically" charged twice as much as customers who live inside the city limits so the dollar amount of these rate increases is automatically twice as much for outside customers. At yesterday's meeting, recently elected Councilman Bob Garrett stated that automatically charging outside customers double the inside rate---without a specific cost basis---is illegal. I will have more on this in a future post as I stated the same thing to the former Mayor and Council in 2005 (no action) and again to Mayor Barile and the previous council in early 2009 (no action). According to Bryan Fowler, the City has a "policy" of automatically charging outside customers twice as much. Well, as I have said before, you just might have an illegal "policy."

Dunn indicated that it would be difficult to accurately project what the rates should be beyond that. He suggested that the City start looking again at its rates in year two (7/1/10-6/30/11) of the increase--with the hope that the economy is on the rebound at that point.

Jim Crumley added that sewer rates had increased 57% in the previous 10 years and that he expects a similar increase in the next 10 years. [With a hefty 22% increase in the next three years alone, it is certainly possible that the next 10-year increase could easily exceed Crumley's 57% prediction.]

Bryan Fowler, who is over the city sewer, stated that he has a $40 Million capital improvements plan for the next 10 years.

Purchase and operation of the Lowland treatment plant is included in the projected sewer rate increases.

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