Chris Cooper Managing Editor
December 26, 2013
The City of Russellville decided not to pass onto its customers the two percent increase the Logan Todd Regional Water Commission (LTRWC) voted on to begin Jan. 1, 2014. Mayor Mark Stratton says the city is in good enough shape the customers won’t have to feel the increase, thanks to the council tightening its belt for the past few years.
“It is the commitment of this council and myself to hold water rates at a constant, with no increase to the customer. This recent wholesale increase will not affect the customers of Russellville,” said Stratton, adding that projects and equipment are annually placed in the budget in order for services to operate efficiently. The city of Russellville has evaluated its budget and had determined projects will be reevaluated, scaled back, or postponed, and equipment replacement will be minimized.
“These steps will eliminate the passing of the rate increase to the citizens of Russellville,” said the mayor. “Over the past three years, we have monitored our budgets monthly, and made adjustments when needed in order to use good stewardship in our budget spending. We will continue to tighten our expenditures and costs, while providing quality services to the citizens of Russellville.”
Councilman Bill Decker, who serves on the LTRWC for the city of Russellville, gave a brief report of the increase at the Tuesday, Dec. 17th city council meeting.
“As everybody knows we’ve had the wettest year that I can remember, probably on record, or at least one of the wettest,” said Decker. “Some people are blessed by this, of course farmers had an abundance of crops, it’s a wonderful thing. Even some utilities, such as hydro-electric companies, had a great year and didn’t have to go outside to buy power from other sources. But if you’re in the water selling business, like Logan Todd, it’s been a struggle. The commission kept thinking every month that things would turn around and get better, but it just didn’t do it.”
According to the LTRWC, the two percent increase is due to lost revenues caused by lack of water usage amonst its customers. The water commission sells water to Logan and Todd Counties and Oak Grove in Christain County. Within Logan are the cities of Adairville, Auburn, Lewisburg and Russellville and the East, North and South water districts.
Decker said while the commission can control some things, like payroll, it can’t control the weather. He said the LTRWC’s finance committee came back with a recommendation on how to handle the decrease in revenue, which prompted the commission to pass the two percent increase, along with making plans for this problem in the future. The commission also placed a two percent implementable increase that will come up for approval each year if needed.
“The commission will look at an increase each year, and if needed it will be taken, and if not it won’t,” said Decker.
Decker continued by saying the implementable increase that the commission has set will give cities like Russellville a chance at budget time to say, “alright look, if they do take it let’s prepare for it. Let’s budget for it. If they don’t have to take it, you’re ahead of the game.”
Decker said nobody on the commission wanted to raise the rates, but unfortunately, sometimes you don’t have any alternative.
Decker made the motion not to pass the increase on to the customers. His motion drew a unanimous vote.
“We are fortunate at this time that we can do this,” said Stratton.
A two percent increase for Russellville would amount to an approximate 70 to 80 cent increase to the customer’s bill.