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Workshop set to discuss water contract

STRIBLING

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The ten-year water contract between the City of Smithville and DeKalb Utility District (DUD) will expire at the end of the year, and an agreement on the price the city will charge the DUD for water has not yet been reached.
Plans for a new DUD water treatment plant are still in the making, but have been put on hold because of a legal challenge by the city and DUD ratepayers filed in Davidson County Chancery Court.
Officials believe that even if the way is cleared for the DUD to build, a water contract with the city will still be needed, at least until the plant is finished.
The city currently charges the DUD $2.05 per 1,000 gallons. The terms of current contract dictate that the rate increases five cents per year. A recent study by Warren and Associates, paid for by the city, concluded that the cost of producing 1,000 gallons of water is $2.67 per 1,000 gallons.
At Monday night’s regular meeting of the city council, Alderman Tim Stribling called for a workshop to reach some decision on what to charge the DUD for water.
“The DUD contract, as we all know, expires on Dec. 31, and I would like for this board to set up a workshop so we can discuss some things concerning the contract,” Stribling told the board.
“We can get some numbers together and try to get the ball rolling,” said city Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson. “Would you like me to send an invitation to DUD?”
“Whether we send an invitation or not, it’s an open meeting,” Stribling replied. “They’re welcome to come.”
The workshop was set for Nov. 11 at 5 p.m. at City Hall.
Meanwhile, the challenge to the new DUD plant is on it’s way to court. City Attorney Vester Parsley, Jr. told the mayor and aldermen Monday night that the transcript from April’s Utility Management Review Board (UMRB) hearing has been filed, and that a brief for the city should be filed soon.
“It looks like the earliest that we’ll have a hearing will be sometime in January, probably closer to the middle of the month,” Parsley said. “The date is not certain because the time for filing briefs and things has just gotten started.”
Bill Pursell and Jason Holliman represent the city in the case, an appeal of the UMRB’s April decision to dismiss a petition by a group of DUD ratepayers and the city to stop the building of the proposed DUD water treatment plant. The city’s attorneys called the decision “arbitrary an capricious” in filing the appeal, and said that the UMRB failed to apply the appropriate scope of review in its deliberations.
Darden Copeland of The Calvert Street Group, the city’s public relations firm, said the bond issues for the DUD project appear to be on hold until the matter is decided.
“We are still monitoring whether or not the bonding authority has put the bonds out for bid,” Copeland told the assembly at Monday night’s meeting. “As of right now, everything is completely on hold pending the outcome of this.” He said the DUD ratepayers opposition to the bond issue remains strong.


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