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Louisville Water, county agree on merger pact

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Water rates will equalize in 2017 with those charged in Jefferson; debt to be erased

By Thomas Barr

 SHEPHERDSVILLE — The 10-year marriage between Bullitt County and the Louisville Water Co. has ended.

But during that business partnership, 1,800 households and over 175 miles of public roads have seen municipal water service become available.

When LWC and the Kentucky Turnpike Water District merged on Aug. 11, 2000, there was a 10-year plan set up in the agreement.

The goal was to make water available to as many residents as possible and to upgrade the existing infrastructure.

“Louisville Water has more than fulfilled its obligation,” said George Miller, who served on the Bullitt County Advisory Board prior to the conclusion of the agreement in December.

Jim Grunow, who was in charge of the Bullitt County project, said the merger agreement must be revised to reflect changes and to provide an outline on what will happen in the future.

For former customers in the Kentucky Turnpike District I and II (formerly Salt River Water), the key date will be Jan. 1, 2017.

On that date, local customers would no longer pay any surcharges and the monthly rates would be lowered to meet the rate of other LWC customers.

Also on that date, any debt incurred by the Bullitt County Water Reserve, which is nearly $17 million, would be dissolved.

That debt has been incurred over the past 10 years as water line expansion has been subsidized by the reserve account.

During the partnership, customers on roads with a 2/3 majority petition, would pay a maximum line fee of $5,450 with the reserve account covering the difference. On some roads, that cost per residence might exceed $20,000.

Until Jan. 1, 2017, the reserve account would receive credit for payments made and any additional tap-ons.

If the LWC building on Burkland Boulevard is sold, Grunow said the revised merger agreement would allow proceeds to go to the reserve account. However, he said there were no plans for such a transaction.

If the building is sold, Grunow said there would be a payment center set up somewhere in the county.

While the advisory board, made up of Dan Thibodeaux, Larry Hatfield and Miller, has dissolved, the agreement calls for a new one to be formed. Grunow said the new Bullitt County Advisory Board would consist of two appointees by the mayor of Shepherdsville and three appointees by the Bullitt County Judge/Executive.

The board would meet up to four times a year and members paid $100 per meeting.

A final request of the agreement would be for Bullitt Fiscal Court to officially dissolve the old Kentucky Turnpike Water District.

Grunow said the county and LWC would continue to work on getting grants.

There are still a number of roads which do not have water service. The deal now, however, is that the residents would have to split the cost of the extension and there would be no subsidy, unless grants could be secured.

Geneva Mahoney worked with county and LWC officials to have some of the language changed in the merger agreement over the past few months.

She is very happy LWC was able to secure water for so many people. She just wanted to make sure that the people of the county were protected under the merger agreement.

When her street got water, it was under KTWD and residents paid over $6,300 for each property.

Thibodeaux said LWC was the only way people of the county would get water. He said there was no way KTWD could borrow the money to make those projects happen.

He said the forgiving of an estimated $10 million in the reserve account by the time 2017 arrives was something Bullitt County officials couldn’t pass up.

“They’re doing something for Bullitt County that’s unheard of in any other county,” said Thibodeaux.

“You better take this deal,” said Miller. ‘If not, water rates will go up and up.”

Fiscal Court members unanimously approved the revised merger agreement and will also take steps to officially dissolve KTWD.