Questions answered about Junction’s sewer rates, 911 dispatching

Published 3:19 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

The Junction City Council learned exactly why sewer rates were going up for the city after hearing from Danville City Engineer Earl Coffey on Thursday night.
Coffey said Danville made an effort to make the water and, most recently, sewer rates consistent with the American Water Works Association standards, so that anyone could go to the city, pull the audit and “get close to what the rates are.”
“We’ve aligned our cost structure around that,” he said.
Coffey explained they had gotten recommendations from Salt River Consulting of Harrodsburg, and that he and Michele Gosser, chief financial officer for the city of Danville, had worked with the firm to answer questions without leading the results.
“We tried to answer her questions with data rather than answer her questions with, ‘Well, this is why we do this,’” Coffey said.
He said the sewer system had to stand alone — the income from the water system can’t be used to subsidize the sewer system.
Coffey said there was also debt service to be taken into consideration. Overall, the city has spent about $24 million on the sewer system, not to be confused with the nearly $24 million spent on the water plant.
“We’ve spent as much on wastewater as we have on water,” he said.
Some of that wastewater debt falls upon certain residents of Junction City because the debt was incurred on those lines. Projects in Junction City have totaled about $6.9 million:
• the Ball’s Branch interceptor, which eliminated the tap-ban in the city, the Toombs Curve Pump Station, the Mitchell Street Pump Station, the Henry Street Pump Station, and reconstructed lines on York Lane. Totaled $4.5 million, of which $1.48 million was new debt; and
• a project at Phylben Village and Airport Road — to update the sewer system in the area, which was causing an odor problem for residents when the system overflowed. Totaled $2.4 million, of which $600,000 was new debt.
“We’re down here working,” he said.
Coffey said they still have to replace the Knob Lick Pump station and a portion of the trunkline afterward which is expected to be another $2 million project.
When completed, the system will be completely new all the way to Danville, with the exception of collection lines.
“That’s a big deal, but represents a significant cost in Danville on your behalf,” Coffey said.
Those who live on those lines are the ones who have to pay the debt off; it can’t be placed on residents in other cities. Coffey said there is a potential for the rates to decrease if more customers are added.
“In three years, that rate could be restructured, if they manage to get more customers on the base,” he said.
In the future, he said, they hope to make the increases more manageable. The current increases will be $3.41, taking a minimum bill of 100 cubic feet from $10.11 to $13.52; a 4,000-gallon, or 534 cubic feet, user will go from $35.98 to $54.31.
Coffey said they are also working toward being able to do monthly water and sewer readings. That will help some individuals, and it will help catch water leaks at a house.
“You’re getting quite a bit for that money. We’ve spent a lot of money in Junction City — our intention is to continue doing that,” Coffey said. “You all aren’t down here on an island. We look at you all, all the same.
The council also heard from Gosser regarding the Danville 911 Center.
Gosser had presented a draft to Douglas. It establishes the fee for Junction City as $7,000 a year, based on the population, and the advisory committee, which will consist of emergency officials.
“It won’t have people like me, it will have people like Merl (Baldwin),” Gosser said, referring to the Junction City police chief.
That committee will hear complaints and problems, something that’s lacking currently, Gosser said.
She said the city of Danville would like everything to be signed by Dec. 31.
In other news, the council heard that Coffey wanted to have Douglas and a few of the Junction City council members to discuss the Junction City Park’s facilities with consultants Brandstetter Carroll, as they work to create a master park plan in Danville.
“You all are here, too. You need to have a voice in it,” Coffey said.
Douglas shared that someone had approached him about putting a youth football field at the park.
“We’re just trying to create a communication path, to understand what’s there,” Coffey said.
The council also set Trick or Treat hours for 5:30-7 p.m. on Halloween, Tuesday, Oct. 31.

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