Our Money Flooding Down The Drain

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Hamilton County Commission is considering a request for another $25 million taxpayer dollars for an Ooltewah sewer plant. This is mostly from the city taxpayers, because most county property tax revenue comes from property in the city and all city of Chattanooga property is assessed for city and county taxes.

 Recently a letter from an Ooltewah resident lamented the spending of $2.6 million for the sewer plant site.  That is just part of the problem.  In fact, last year the Hamilton County Commission voted to spend $45 million for this same plant.   Over the years, starting in the 90’s, millions of tax dollars have been spent on the WWTA, on top of the $45 million last year and the $25 million in this year’s request.

Thousands of city and other municipal taxpayers have no sewer.  I know, I’m one of them.  This won’t end here.  They will keep coming to the well.  If your streets aren’t paved, don’t worry about it, you can take heart in knowing you had a part in a brand-new sewer plant ruining someone’s yard in the hinterlands of the county.

 Oddly enough there is no push for this plant by the people living there. Article after article is written on the good septic tanks we have.  Do these county residents know that they will be forced to hook up and pay for the sewer when it is run by their house?  By the way, a septic tank does not raise its rates every year.  That’s noticeable by the uproar of thousands opposing it.  So where is the push, if there is no industrial need, and thousands of area residents are opposed and Moccasin Bend has capacity, why build it?   Developers like Pratt push it, bringing tiny lot development and apartments to a neighborhood near you.   

The city sewers and WWTA all have major leakage problems.  Lines leak sewage out when SSO (storm water sewage overflows) happen. This occurs when it rains and when it doesn’t it’s just not so visible.  A gushing sewer manhole on Hamill Road caused a Chattanooga police officer to stop and inspect.  A car killed him there.  It’s still not fixed.  These sewer leaks won’t fix themselves and a new plant won’t fix them either.   It will just give us another plant for us to pay taxes to maintain.  SSO’s are the primary reason for the consent decree.  Fixing the SSOs would add huge additional capacity to the Moccasin Bend plant.

Finally, there is no required mandate for the county to provide sewers.  The need is so low the WWTA announced (Chattanoogan October 3, 2018) that it might take “effluent from Meigs County and Bradley County.” So now Chattanooga/Hamilton County taxpayers get to pay for other counties' sewage.   If it is needed and a spot can be found that does not hurt anyone, let these new owners pay a rate to build the plant.  Elected officials may rue the day they voted to stick this bill to folks that had no benefit and no choice but to pay for someone else’s unwanted sewers.

Jim Folkner


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