Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

Local News

March 23, 2013

Wurtland OKs sewer rate increase

WURTLAND — The Wurtland City Commission on Friday approved first reading of an ordinance raising the sewer rates of the city’s industrial customers by 100 percent.

According to Mayor Donna Hayes, the increase will primarily affect five plants — duPont, Pregis, Vesuvius Great Lakes Minerals and Sun Chemical Performance Pigment, which closed last month but is still sending flow to the city’s wastewater treatment facility.

The closing Sun Chemical plant is the reason for the rate increase, and the reason residential customers will see their bills go up in the coming months. The plant was built primarily to handle industrial sewage from Sun Chemical, formerly known as PCI, and the company paid the cost of operating the wastewater treatment facility, as well as for most of its debt service.

According to Mayor Donna Hayes, the city has been advised by its accountant to raise its residential rates by 30 percent. But, she said, officials are hesitant to lock into a figure at this point because there’s a lot of uncertainty over what the cost of operating the plant will be. The facility is just now beginning to process residential waste only, and it could be the end of June before the city has a good idea of just how much money it will take to run it, she said.

The city is in the process of converting the facility into a residential treatment only plant. That mainly involves replacing its 150-horsepower blower with one roughly a third that size, which should cut the plant’s electric bill in half, from about $14,000 a month to less than $7,000, Hayes said.

Additionally, the cost of chemicals to treat household sewage will be substantially less than it was for those necessary to treat waste from the pigment plant, she said.

Hayes said the city was exploring the possibility of raising residential rates by 30, 35 or 40 percent, which she said would generate an additional $4,800, $5,600 and $6,400 a month in revenue, respectively. The plant currently has about 400 residential customers.

While Hayes said she thought a 40 percent increase was probably more than most Wurtland residents could reasonably absorb, she said some type of rate hike was an inevitability.

“If we want to flush in Wurtland, we have to pay for the sewer,” she said.

Hayes said the city hasn’t had a sewer rate increase since 2010. The fact Sun Chemical was covering the operational expenses for the sewer plant meant one hadn’t been necessary.

She said the commission would hold a town hall meeting once officials have a better idea of what the new rates are going to be.

The city also is cutting back on manpower at the plant, eliminating two of the three shifts there and reducing other city employees to 32 hours a week. Earlier this month, the commission also eliminated Wurtland’s police department and laid off the city’s only law-enforcement officer, police Chief Phillip Piercy.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • jeremymccombs.jpg Jeremy McComb enjoys Tri-State's limelight

    Jeremy McComb’s career has been a wild ride, especialy in the last week.
    The lead single from his latest album was released on iTunes last week and it was a huge success right from the start.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Festival to showcase new plays

    The ACTC New Play Festival will feature 10 student and faculty written plays (short scenes, monologues, ten-minutes, one acts) that will premiere at 8 p.m. April 25 and 26 and at 2:30 p.m. April 27 at J.B. Sowards Theater on campus.

    April 17, 2014

  • 0420mongol1.JPG A ride to remember

    Riding 50 miles a day is no big deal to Amy Whelan.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0418melodies.jpg Melodies & Masterpieces returns Friday

    Anyone strolling through downtown Ashland at lunchtime Friday will have a chance to enjoy the artistry of one of the area’s most-respected guitarists as Chris Kitchen kicks off the return of the Melodies & Masterpieces series on Judd Plaza.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0418odell.jpg MSU professor appointed state geographer

    Dr. Gary O’Dell, a professor of physical geography at Morehead State University, was named state geographer in January.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bill to benefit AK Steel

    During the 11th hour of the General Assembly, a bill extending important sustainable incentives for AK Steel’s Ashland Works was pushed through for approval Tuesday night.
    House Bill 483 was created to extend the plant's incentives provided by the Kentucky Industrial Revitalization Act in 2004.

    April 16, 2014

  • Pathways begins autism services

    Pathways has extended its community outreach in a big way by providing services for families facing autism.
    Lena Harmon, central director for the company's Kentucky Impact Youth Council, said these services can save families the trouble of being added to long queue lines in Cincinnati and Louisville.
    Harmon said she has heard some families testify having to wait up to 12 months for appointments in faraway cities.

    April 16, 2014

  • Russell academic new dean at OUS

    Nicole Pennington chose a two-year community college degree track in 1991 because she wanted to enter the nursing work force with as little delay as possible.

    April 16, 2014

  • 1936 Indian lasting wedding gift

    When it came time to present his future wife with a symbol of his undying devotion, Virgil Erskine gave her a 1936 Indian motorcycle instead of a diamond ring.
    “I’ve always called it my wedding present. It’s my diamond ring,” said Charlene Erskine, explaining she and her husband were married at Sturgis, S.D., in 1983, found the antique Indian Sport Scout in 1984 and had it restored and on the road in 1985.

    April 16, 2014

  • Boyd Democrats take floor at Elks

    Boyd County Democrats met at the Elks Lodge for a matchup between candidates for two of the hottest primary races in Boyd County: sheriff and judge-executive.
    The candidates, sponsored by the Boyd County Democratic Women’s Club, each took to the podium to face the crowd Tuesday night and discuss the candidacy and platforms for the race that is still over a month away.

    April 15, 2014