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After three years of steady rates, Kingston City Council set the final reading of an ordinance raising city water and sewer rates by 5 percent for fiscal 2012-13.
The decisive final vote will occur at the June 12 full council session. The measure setting the annual budget for the water and sewer departments for fiscal ’12-’13 and establishing rates and expenses passed on first reading at the May meeting.
According to Kingston City Manager Jim Pinkerton, raising water and sewer rates has been used frequently in years past, on the advice of auditors, as a tool to address increased costs.
City records show that though rates have remained the same for the last three years, they went up 5 percent per year for each of the seven years that preceded that three-year period.
Pinkerton says that under the current fiscal year’s rates, a household within Kingston city limits with a 5,000-gallon monthly water usage owes a bill of $72.92. Should the increase pass, that same household would owe $76.62 for the same water usage next year.
“As far as I know, we still have the lowest rates of any of the municipalities,” Pinkerton said. “Lower than Rockwood and Harriman.”
At its workshop last week, the Kingston City Council also set the second reading of the city budget for June 12.
The budget includes a 9-cent property tax rate hike, which will help fund pay raises for city employees, debt service on a new city hall, increased insurance costs, and loss of a federal firefighters grant.
In other work session business:
• Council placed on the June 12 agenda the second reading of an ordinance for any amendments to the current fiscal year’s water and sewer budget.
• Council placed on the June 12 agenda the second reading of an ordinance for any amendments to the current fiscal year’s city budget.
• Council placed on the June 12 agenda the second reading of an ordinance rezoning territory on Martin Street downtown near the Piggly Wiggly from Residential-1 to Commercial-1 at the request of the property owner.
• Council placed on the June 12 agenda for approval its annual maintenance contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The contract allows Kingston to perform and be reimbursed for certain services such as mowing and maintenance on and around state routes, including Hwys. 70, 58 and 326.
• Council placed on the June 12 agenda an item authorizing the city attorney and the mayor to take such action as is necessary, including litigation, to repair sewer line on Sunset Drive. This item relates to a damaged sewer line that is now covered by structures on private residential property. The issue came briefly in an earlier council meeting, but was tabled at that time. Pinkerton said he would comment further after the June 12 meeting.