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DUD ruling expected in 30 days
Rate hike creates stir
While Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle heard arguments in the City of Smithville/DUD ratepayers case against the DeKalb Utility District (DUD) last Wednesday, city and DUD officials continue to disagree on the matter of water rates.The judicial review hearing, held in Davidson County Chancery Court last week, was an appeal of the state Utility Management Review Board’s (UMRB) April 2013 ruling against the petitioners in a DUD rate review hearing. The city and the petitioners hope to block the construction of a new DUD water treatment plant.Jason Holleman represented the city and DUD ratepayers at the hearing, while Dewey Branstetter, Jr,. presented the DUD’s case, and Jason Hale spoke for the UMRB.Meanwhile, in the absence of a formal agreement between the city and DUD, water rates to utility district customers have increased dramatically.In a recent letter to DUD customers, officials of the utility said say the hike was unavoidable in light of the increase in the rate the city charges DUD for water.The city increased the rate the DUD pays from $2.05 per 1,000 gallons to $5.00 per 1,000 gallons, an increase from the rate of $2.05 per thousand gallons, effective Jan. 1.In the DUD’s letter to it’s customers, the blame is placed squarely on the city.“DUD is now forced, due to the actions of the Smithville City Council, to increase our rates. We therefore provide notice that beginning with the January billing, that an increase of $4.30 per thousand gallons (42% increase) will be assessed to our customers who receive water purchased from Smithville.At Monday night’s council meeting, however, City Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson voiced a different opinion.“I sent a letter last week to the board of DeKalb Utility District, inviting to attend this meeting to discuss the water-rate increase,” Hendrixson said.