Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Filling a swimming pool will no longer qualify you for an adjustment in your water-sewer bill

By Kevin Ortiz
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

After an intense debate, the Midway City Council voted 3-1 Monday night to stop reducing sewer charges for residents who fill swimming pools with water that does not enter the sewer system. 

The process has allowed pool owners a one-time discount based on the owner’s previous six months of water usage.  Members of the council couldn’t agree on an adjustment plan that would include things like turning on sprinklers and watering gardens.

Council Member Charlann Wombles raised the issue, saying, “My concern is with those of us who use water for watering our gardens, or just a variety of reasons who have no avenue for requesting an adjustment.  “I think it would be nice for other citizens to have that too, and I know it would be a nightmare, an absolute nightmare, to compute and to administer, but that still does not make it fair.”

Council Member Sharon Turner also voiced her displeasure: “I think it’s an unfair practice and I’ve said that since I’ve been here in 2005.”

Referring to the $1,400 in total reductions of sewer charges this year for pool owners, detailed in a list given to council members and members-elect, Turner said, “It’s not the amount of money, it’s the principle.” She said that even with a second meter to measure non-sewered water, a device that would cost a customer at least $700, “It’s an unfair practice.”

After the council couldn’t agree how to make the adjustments fair, Council Member Daniel Roller suggested that the issue be referred back to committee. Mayor Tom Bozarth said the matter should be left with the whole council. Earlier, Bozarth had asked the council, “Does anyone think this is a fair policy?” and Roller had replied, “I don’t think it’s an unfair policy.”

After his committee suggestion was rebuffed, Roller asked his colleagues, “Do you want to make a motion that we do away with water adjustments completely? If you want to put your vote out there and somebody wants to make that motion, then we can vote on it.”

Turner then moved to abolish the pool adjustments. Roller reiterated that he would like to see the issue go back to committee for research, but Bozarth called a vote on the motion.  Wombles and Doris Leigh joined Turner in supporting it; Roller voted no, and Joy Arnold abstained. Aaron Hamilton was absent.

“I don’t think the adjustments are unfair,” said Roller.  “I don’t think it penalizes everyone else.”

Among other business, the council appointed Debra Shockley to the county planning and zoning commission’s Architectural Review Board, named Al Schooler to the commission’s Board of Zoning Adjustments and put Helen Rentch on the county Human Rights Commission.  

The council also gave first reading to ordinances adopting the commission’s proposed changes in the countywide zoning ordinance. All deal with signs; one change would allow electronic signs with changing messages, and another would require removal of signs advertising businesses that have closed. Second reading and passage are scheduled for the next meeting, at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 16 at City Hall.

Announcements of civic interest

Wombles announced that the Sister City Board, which would oversee agreements with cities in other countries, will meet at 4 p.m. Monday, Dec. 9 at the Midway Branch Library to discuss its proposed bylaws. All meetings of any committee created by the city are open to the public.

Turner announced that fund-raising for the Homeplace at Midway through last week's quilt show totaled $17,075, not including proceeds from meals promoted by restaurants and donation jars that are still in local businesses. Roller noted that the total includes $5,000 donated by the Francisco’s Farm arts festival.

Bozarth announced that the annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony will be held at 6:30 p.m. Friday and that Santa Claus will arrive by train at 11 a.m. Saturday.

This story was updated at 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5.

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