Shepherdsville will hold line on sewer rates

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By Stephen Thomas

 SHEPHERDSVILLE - Sewers might stink in other areas of Bullitt County, but Shepherdsville appears to smell like a rose.

The Shepherdsville City Council unanimously approved a hold on sewer rate increases this year following a 66 percent raise last year.

The past increase went into effect in August 2011, following a lengthy council discussion combined with numerous concerns from citizens.

The enormous increase was primarily approved to cover a $4 million projects debt acquired by the city.

According to Mayor Scott Ellis, the city has since caught up and maintained its sewer funds. He suggested the rates be maintained, and the council agreed.

The council had previously approved an ordinance which allowed automatic cost-of-living increases for sewer rates.

The action by the council last Monday stopped that increase from taking effect.

Ellis said he hoped to stop any increases for the next few years.

Prior to its decision to halt increases, the council unanimously approved an amended sewer budget ordinance for the 2012-13 fiscal year.

The amended budget showed an increased revenue of over $5.5 million, up more than a million from previous estimates. Capital expenses were increased by about $300,000.

In other business:

- The city’s fiscal year budget was also amended during the meeting, with money added to compensate workers’ pay raises. The budget passed with a 4-2 vote, with council members Bernie Brown and Clinton Kline in opposition.

Brown cited his concern for a “misallocation of funds” as his reasoning for voting against. He felt there was not enough funding allocated for potential environmental or storm water issues.

“That’s a big concern of mine and that is why I voted against the budget,” he said. “I’m not against the pay (raises).”

- The council approved a resolution to prepare a dump pad at the city’s waste water treatment plant, along with pursuing recourse against QK4 for reimbursement.

Plant superintendent Chuck Keith estimated the repair costs between $40,000 and $50,000.

Council members believe QK4, the company who approved the initial plans for the dump pad, should be held accountable for its failure to function properly.

The council unanimously approved a bid of $37,330 for work on the plant’s recirculating pumps.

- The first reading of an ordinance to increase flat rate fees for auto accidents was presented.

The new flat rate would be set at $500 to vehicle owners involved in accidents requiring rescues, hazardous materials clean-up, fires or other mitigation performed by Shepherdsville Fire.

The ordinance pertained to vehicles with no more than 16 passengers. It did not include tractor-trailers.

Shepherdsville Fire chief Layne Troutman said the increase was a “modernized” version of an existing ordinance. He said the flat rate was set by insurance companies.

- The council unanimously approved a rezoning of four acres along Forest Hill Rd. belonging to Donald Sohm.

The property was rezoned from Agricultural to R-1 Residential and recommended by the Bullitt County Joint Planning and Zoning Commission.

- Following a recent shooting at a council meeting in Delaware, city attorney Joe Wantland felt steps should be taken to secure local meetings.

“We’re getting to a point where people are out of control,” he said. “I don’t want that here in Shepherdsville.”

Wantland suggested each public speaker approach the podium in front of the council with their hands showing, similar to the court procedure.

He requested two Shepherdsville Police officers be present at each meeting, asking for chief Doug Puckett’s input. Puckett said the city could not use metal detectors, adding that he had no problem with the request if officers were available.

Council member Faith Portman said rules should be posted at the door in regards to public speakers. Puckett suggested passing out informational sheets to those signed in to speak.

The next meeting of the Shepherdsville City Council will be on Monday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone wishing to speak must sign up prior to the start of the meeting. The public is invited.