Second part of rate increase to be implemented in Jellico

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By Charlotte Underwood

The Jellico Utility Board voted to implement the second part of a water/sewer rate increase at last Tuesday night’s meeting.

The 20-percent increase on water and the 10-percent increase on sewer come as no surprise. The board approved the increases over a year ago when the issue first arose.

The overall increase plan included a 20-percent increase on water and a 10-percent increase on sewer to be implemented each year for the first two years and a three-percent increase on water and a three-percent increase on sewer each year for next three years after that.

This increase may provide a light at the end of the tunnel for the water system.

This next step in the water/sewer increase plan will hopefully bring the water system out of the red, according to Jellico Utility General Manager Mike Bethurem.

“Over the last year, the amount of our loss on a monthly basis has gone down some,” Bethurem said.

The board also discussed the possibility of losing its Whitley County water customers, which is a fairly large chunk of revenue. The Whitley County Water district is looking for another utility provider to switch to by December, Bethurem said. He, and the board, is looking into alternatives and possible solutions to the potential problem.

“If we lose them as a customer all together, it would require an additional 12-percent increase over the next four years for the water system to not lose money,” Bethurem said. He is also looking at the option of providing water at a lower rate to the Whitley County District in order to not lose them as a customer. Bethurem was quick to point out that if this is the route that the water system is forced to take, Jellico customers will still pay less for their water.

Other business discussed was the utility company’s pole attachment contracts with AT&T. As a result of negotiations with the Tennessee Public Power Association and AT&T on behalf of all municipalities, there will be a pole attachment increase.

“We will see a 30-percent increase in revenue from attachments over the next three years,” Bethurem said.