Eastview raises water rates

By Jeff Whitten

The Eastview water board voted to raise rates at its meeting July 19.

The board raised the base rate from $12 to $13. The base rate is the rate charged for the first 2,000 gallons of water used. The $4.14 that Eastview customers will pay for each 1,000 gallons  over 2,000 remains unchanged.

The increase will add $800 per month in revenues for the Eastview water department.

The vote was 4-1 with Mayor Jesse Robbins, Vice-Mayor Jeff Coln and board members Elvis Butler and Jim Humphrey voting yes. Lucy Martin voted no and Burl Sutton was absent from the meeting.

The increase will become final upon passage on a second reading by the board.

“I hate to raise rates, but you are going to have to do something,” Coln said.

At its March meeting, City Recorder Emodene Smith told the board that an audit by the state showed that the department had lost water for the second straight year.

City Attorney Craig Kennedy then said that the state would probably make the city raise its rates.

“You’re gonna have to do it either way,” said Butler at Tuesday’s meeting.

Smith said in the March meeting that the department’s income was greater than its expenses, but due to depreciation the department’s liabilities were greater than its assets.

“Depreciation is killing us,” said Raymond Butler of the water department.

Board members voting for the increase expressed concern that if the board did not act, the state would raise the rates even more.

“If they raise it, it will be a whole lot more than if we raise it,” Butler said.

Martin, as she had in the April meeting, again expressed strong opposition to the rate increases.

“I’m strongly opposed to any increase in water rates. Think about the people who don’t have a job,” she said.

Martin again challenged the board to cut expenses rather than raise rates, as she did at the earlier meeting.

“There’s got to be some way,” she said.

“Where will your savings come from?” Butler responded.

“We’re not doing anything we shouldn’t be doing,” Coln added.

“I don’t know anything we can cut,” said Robbins.

According to Butler, the base rate has only been raised twice in the past 20 years, by $1 each time.

In other actions, the board:

*voted to spend $6,500 on accounting software from Local government Corp.

*approved a propane pre-buy of 3,000 gallons from Heritage Propane.

*Tabled a proposal to abandon an easement on Autumn Lane, in order to get a legal opinion from Kennedy, who was absent from the meeting.