By BOB PALMER
Jefferson City Councilmen learned this month city residents may face higher water bills in 2020 because the state’s largest electric power producer closed the Monticello Steam Generating Plant.
“Luminent shut down the plant in Mount Pleasant and had an $800,000 per year contract for water from us,” Walt Sears, general manager of Northeast Texas Municipal Water District, said. “We hope they will honor their contract.”
With Luminent in bankruptcy and able to cancel contracts, Sears is skeptical.
“We assume Luminent will continue to pay,” Sears said. “If Luminent decides not to pay, we will be able to absorb that for a year.”
The last time NTMWD raised rates was 2009.
Sears told aldermen they could face a price increase in 2020.
The city, as one of the founding members of the district, pays $1.48 per thousand gallons. Municipalities and other entities, beside the original seven, pay $2.30 per thousand gallons.
Jefferson also gets a rebate of about $50,000 per year from NTMWD as well as other perks as a founding member.
Sears said the district and representatives of the seven cities will develop a way to offset the $800,000 loss.
“George (Otstott) and this city council will have a say on what we do,” Sears said. Otstott represents Jefferson on the NTMWD board.
Jefferson used 132 million gallons in the 2016-17 year.
Sears said an even split of the new levy would equate to a 50-cents per 1,000 gallon raise for Jefferson citizens.
“An average person using 6,000 gallons per month would see a $3 increase,” Sears said.
Other possibilities included selling the water to a new customer or a graduated increase.
Alderman David Westbrook noted, however, “I do not want to put any additional burden on our citizens.”
Related: Broadway-Polk Intersection Gets Sewer Upgrade (July 19 Edition)
Jefferson City Councilmen voted July 17 to include a major sewer line improvement near the intersection of Broadway and Polk Streets.
The work was originally included in the water and sewer project affecting much of the city but was eliminated because of cost.
Businesses and residents in the Broadway/Polk area, however, lodged several complaints.
One office noted sewer gas filling their building following rains.
The council approved the transfer of $340,000 from sales tax revenue to the Water and Sewer Fund to pay for the improvements.
After Alderman Jim Finstrom objected to Pecan Way being included in a list of streets scheduled for repaving the matter was tabled.
Finstrom said Pecan Way had never been brought up to city code by the developers and had never been accepted into the Jefferson street program.
The paving program of slightly less than $300,000 was put on hold until the matter could be clarified.
Alderman David Westbrook appointed Doug Thompson to the Jefferson Economic Development Corporation board and Tony Jones to the Tourism Board. Alderman Roy Richie named Paul Morehead to the Tourism panel.
The council took no action on a proposal by Mayor Bubba Haggard to close Lions Club Park after dark.
Police Chief Gary Amburn reported that his officers regularly patrol the area and have found little in the way of criminal activity.
“Yes, there are people there,” Amburn said. “They sit there till 10 or 11 at night. We haven’t found any drugs.”
“I don’t see any reason for (a curfew), unless there is bad behavior,” Kay McKinnon said. “And if there is bad behavior, you (Amburn) can deal with it.”
A request by owners of Kennedy Manor to operate golf cart rides in the city was tabled for more information.
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