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LJ committee to look at rates

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By Mallory Bilger

LEBANON JUNCTION — Lebanon Junction is facing some tough decisions when it comes to the city’s water company.

For years the city has been making hundreds of thousands of dollars in account transfers from the occupational tax fund to help keep the water department afloat. City Clerk Susan Crady said the water company has not been self-sustaining for several years, and that’s a big problem.

If the city was to lose a large portion of its occupational tax money then it could possibly be unable to pay for bulk water and system maintenance.

Currently the city buys the majority of its water from Bardstown at $1.70 per 1,000 gallons. The residents pay $11.50 per 2,000 gallons of water used.

Council members voted at their July meeting to form a committee to investigate and make recommendations to the mayor and council on what actions should be taken to try and remedy the problem.

Council members Tim Sanders, Larry Dangerfield and Dion Collins were selected to serve on the committee, as well as Crady and Public Works Director Chaz Sullivan.

“We’re going to have to address the issue and raise the water bill somewhat,” Dangerfield said. “I don’t want to pay no more for water but I don’t want to see us go under, either.”

Most council members agree the city is going to have to consider some type of rate increase — which would be unusual for customers considering rates have only been raised $2.90 since 1986, Crady said.

Dangerfield said if the city had raised its monthly rates $1 annually for the last 15 years it wouldn’t be in the situation it is now.

Sanders admitted some type of increase was probably unavoidable.

“We haven’t had a raise in a while and it’s going to happen eventually,” Sanders said.

Collins said that being a newer council member he would like to familiarize himself with the city’s rate structure and examine how the city can avoid the current situation in the future.

Mayor James “Butch” Sweat said he wanted council members to take plenty of time to research and consider the options before any type of increase was suggested.

As of Wednesday no meeting date had been set for the newly formed committee.