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."


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: BAILEY, BLAKE AARON  206 TUNNELL BLVD CHATTANOOGA, 37411  Age at Arrest: 24 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County VEHICULAR ASSAULT --- BARROW, JALAYCIAN  2709 CITICO AVENUE APT W1 CHATTANOOGA, 37404  Age at Arrest: 18 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: McCallie Takes 2-0 Soccer Victory Over Baylor

McCallie soccer gained a 2-0 victory over Baylor. (click for more)

The Heart Of A Teacher Makes A Difference - And Response (2)

In less than four weeks, I expect to be one of 216 graduating seniors from East Hamilton School. One could say all possible variables help a student rise to the highest levels in school; but a student is more than his environment or genetic code. He is a mixture of his own propensity and dedication to academics, coupled with a systemic team of mentors who give their all as a student’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: FBI To Study ‘Lickers’

About 25 years ago there was a terrifying movie called “The Silence of the Lambs.” It was so good it won the Academy Awards in all five categories – Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Director and Adapted Screenplay. Further, Anthony Hopkins and Jodie Foster were brilliant, but do you remember the third “star?” Scott Glenn played a character named “Jack Crawford,” the ... (click for more)

Orange (Defense) Rallies To Beat White (Offense), 54-44

KNOXVILLE, Tenn.  –  The White-clad offense put on a show in Tennessee’s spring football game on Saturday afternoon, but it was the Orange-shirted defense that took home the victory, 54-44, in front of an announced crowd of 63,016 at Neyland Stadium. Coach Butch Jones was impressed with the Vols' collective performance on Saturday compared to two years ago. ... (click for more)

Siblings Shine For East Hamilton Tennis

For East Hamilton tennis, it’s the new millennium’s version of the late 1970s TV sitcom “Eight is Enough” or the movie “Yours, Mine and Ours”. Three sets of siblings are represented on coach Michael Jackson’s teams from 1-7 in singles and all played and won  Friday  in district matches with Bradley Central. With no seniors on either team and both squads looking ... (click for more)