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Making the tough decision might wind up to be the easiest choice -especially when one has an opportunity to reflect.
Bullitt Fiscal Court was facing a request last Tuesday night.
The Bullitt County Sanitation District was seeking to increase user fees by 3 percent. The district had not sought an increase for seven years.
The reason was simple - revenue from new development had literally dried up over the years and the revenue generated was limited to a fairly fixed amount. On top of that, the system, which dates back 50 years at several facilities, are in dire need for upgrades.
If your plant does not operate properly, the federal EPA gets to make a visit.
So fiscal court members had the opportunity to allow the district to raise its fees for those who use more than the 2,000-gallon minimum. It was about a $1 a month for most customers.
That request, although it had been made a couple of weeks prior and district manager Jerry Kennedy had spoken to four of the five members, went literally on deaf ears.
Credit goes to Ruthie Ashbaugh for bringing up the issue for a vote. Her motion died due to a lack of a second.
Everyone is smiling. No rate increase. The good guys won.
But that’s only half of the story.
Since the sanitation district is a taxing agency. It has the ability to impose a tax.
Bullitt County Judge/Executive Melanie Roberts encouraged the sanitation board to look at the tax option.
The only problem is such a tax would have to be imposed on everyone in the district’s service area. That service area is all of Bullitt County -- minus the cities of Mount Washington, Shepherdsville, Hillview, Lebanon Junction, Hebron Estates, Pioneer Village and Fox Chase. If residents live in the 201 service area of any of the above cities, you would also be exempt.
In reality, by virtue of not moving forward with the user fee increase, fiscal court could be setting in motion a possibility that people who would never have an opportunity to get sewer service would suddenly be forced to pay another tax.
Let’s make one thing clear - the sanitation district was formed in 1997 and had no intention of ever imposing a tax. But it could.
It has tried to acquire older plants over the years and then bring them up to standards without rate increases. But it could have sought increases.
The biggest problem the sanitation district ran into was when it acquired some plants that were on a flat fee. With such a setup, no matter the amount of usage, you paid the same price.
When that formula was changes, rates went up. It was a very argumentative time for the commissioners.
The users of the sanitation system should be the ones tackling the challenges felt by the commissioners.
It should not be placed on the backs of people who can only dream of the day when they are on a sewerage treatment system.
For whatever reason, Bullitt Fiscal Court turned its back on the sanitation district. And it turned its back on the people of this county.
It’s a simple decision. When Kennedy returns in early January to address the court once again, the answer should be to allow the 3 percent increase.
Otherwise, the district would be forced to seek revenue elsewhere.
And in the Blame Game, the fingers will be pointed back at the faces of fiscal court members.
There is a strong need for county leadership. Here is the perfect opportunity for the members of Bullitt Fiscal Court to move forward and accept the proposal.
If not, there is a concern on our part that many people who do not deserve the tax will soon be the recipient of a new bill to pay.