Water Company Coddles Some Customers, Soaks Others, Signal Mountain Mayor Says

Lusk Asks Regulators To Deny Requested Double-Digit Increase, End Long-Term Inequities

Friday, September 21, 2012 - by Judy Frank

While members of the Tennessee Regulatory Agency are deciding whether to approve yet another increase in water rates, Signal Mountain Mayor Bill Lusk said Thursday, they should also look at ways to put a stop to the water company's practice of playing favorites among its customers.

The unfair practices have been going on for years, he said, and Signal Mountain has been -- and would continue to be if the proposed increase is approved -- among the victims.

Under Tennessee American Water Company's proposed increase, he said, four area communities which buy water in bulk and then resell it would all be charged the same rates, regardless of the cost to TAWC to provide the service.

Signal Mountain and its neighboring town, Walden, are both bulk customers, he noted. However, the services they are provided are vastly different.

In Walden's case, Tennessee American pumps water to Walden's Ridge Utility District on the top of the mountain, the mayor explained.

However, TAWC transports water purchased by Signal Mountain only as far as the town's pump station at the foot of the mountain, he said, leaving the town to bear the cost of getting the water up the mountain.

"Since 1969, the Town has invested over $975,000 in capital improvements and we have several large expenditures forecasted for replacing several of our five pumps," the mayor said. ". . . In recent years, the town requested that Tennessee American sell us water delivered to our tanks on the mountain just as it does for WRUD. This would have put both utilities on equal footing, but TAWC was unwilling to consider this at the time."

Consequently, he said, "For FY 2013, the Town budgeted $291,957 on operating expenses that are solely dedicated to pumping water up the mountain. None of these expenses are borne by the other water utility on Signal Mountain and, in fact, Tennessee American provides these services to that utility included in their rate."

Now, adding insult to injury, TAWC is asking for permission to levy a two-tiered rate increase that, if approved, would mean a whopping 43.9 percent increase in Signal's cost to provide water to its residents since 2009, Mayor Lusk said.

"In the past, TAWC was willing to negotiate a rate with the town," he noted, "but this stopped when the TRA assumed rate-making responsibility for bulk customers."

Further, he said, "When we received a 12.77 percent increase in 2009, Tennessee American would only allow their proposed contract with the Town to state that TRA could change the rate at any point . . . This served to void any actual agreement on rates since it could now be changed during the term of the contract, making a continuing agreement with Tennessee American pointless, while limiting our ability to purchase water from another supplier."

"The Town of Signal Mountain requests that the TRA reject this latest increase from Tennessee America Water Company in its entirety," he concluded. "But if an increase is granted, the Town should be given a credit on any increase that is equal to our pumping, maintenance and capital costs and the two-tiered rate should be rejected."



Walker County Arrest Report For Sept. 18-24

Here is the Walker County arrest report for Sept. 18-24: HUBBARD    MICHAEL      ANDREW      W/M    25        OFFICER SCHRADER         FAILURE TO REPORT NAME OR ADDRESS CHANGE, SPEEDING DURHAM      ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AMMONS, ASHTON DEWAYNE  1904 TINSLEY PL Chattanooga, 37404  Age at Arrest: 25 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DISORDERLY CONDUCT --- BIRDSONG, CORDELLIUS LOVETT  4718 METRO PAK LANE HIXSON, 37343  Age at Arrest: 19 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DRIVING ON REVOKED, ... (click for more)

Fix Obamacare, Don't Repeal It - And Response (2)

John McCain recently said, "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full (Congressional Budget ... (click for more)

Roy Exum - ‘Let’s Talk Real Life’

In mid-November of 2015, the Missouri football team very unwisely went on strike. A black student had refused to eat until a list of racially-based demands were met. Some on the football team were sympathetic and it quickly morphed into the biggest catastrophe in the annals of higher education. The university would lose hundreds of millions, athletic donations dropped 72 percent, ... (click for more)

UTC's Arnold Scores Lone Goal In Women's Soccer Win

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman Chloe Arnold’s goal, late in the match proved to be the game winner as the Mocs defeated Western Carolina 1-0 Sunday afternoon in Southern Conference women’s soccer action.   Chattanooga improves to 3-6-2 on the year and 1-1 in SoCon action while the Catamounts move to 3-7-1 overall and 0-2 against the league.   “Hard ... (click for more)

Mocs Volleyball Sweeps UNCG For First SoCon Win

After falling in back-to-back matches at home for the first time since 2014, the Chattanooga Mocs volleyball team rebounded with a convincing 3-0 (25-23, 28-26, 25-18) sweep over UNCG in Maclellan Gymnasium  on Saturday  night.   Following the win, Chattanooga improves to 8-8 overall and 1-1 in the SoCon this season while UNCG falls to 8-6, 1-1 in the conference. ... (click for more)