News from the Tennessee Valley State, Local and National news
FRIDAY, MAY 12, 2006

Hartselle Utilities ponders changing sewer fee policy

By Deangelo McDaniel
DAILY Staff Writer 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The fees associated with connecting to city sewer in Hartselle may be changing, Hartselle Utilities General Manager Ferrell Vest said.

In some cases, he said, it may be to HU's advantage to waive or reduce the $1,236 availability fee and $628 tap fee.

"This is something I have discussed with a couple of board members," he said. "This is one of the alternatives, but reducing those fees is another."

Past and current city leaders have used those fees as a reason not to adopt a mandatory sewer connection ordinance.

"I just can't force some little old lady on a fixed income to pay the cost of getting sewer," Council President Kenny Thompson said.

Councilman Bill Drake has the same concern.

"We have to take in consideration how people will pay the fees," Drake said.

During a meeting with the council last month, HU Board member Garlin Cheatham pushed the council "to show some leadership" and adopt a mandatory sewer connection policy.

He said it is the council's responsibility to "look out for the health and welfare of the city."

Vest said he is aware of the council's concerns about the financial impact.

"The board is sensitive to that and that's why we are looking for some alternatives," he said.

According to HU records, about 1,500 homes in Hartselle are not connected to city sewer.

Of that number, between 70 and 100 homes have sewer lines within connection distance.

Even if HU does not waive or reduce the fees, the utility has a program that allows homeowners to pay the fees over 60 months.

According to the company's Web site, the customer pays the tap fee upfront and HU finances the availability fee at a rate of 2 percent above prime.

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