David Johnston-Primary 2018

BD City Commission discusses OCRW issues

In Local, News by Lee Bratcher

By Lee Bratcher / OC Monitor

BEAVER DAM, Ky. — The Beaver Dam City Commission discussed the Ohio County Regional Wastewater District at its November meeting. The discussion focused on a proposal made by the city of Hartford to reduce the OCRW rate for wastewater treatment and the disbursement of around $2 million held in reserve.

Beaver Dam Mayor Paul Sandefur first wanted to discuss Bob Cox’s report to the city commission in October. Cox is one of the Beaver Dam representatives on the OCRW Board of Directors, along with Lonnie Hawes.

In October, Cox told the city commission the city of Hartford owed over $200,000 to the OCRW and had not made a payment in several months.

Some on the Hartford City Council took umbrage with Cox’s report, including council member Nick White referring to it as “fake news.”

Sandefur pointed out Cox was correct in what he reported in October, to the best of his knowledge. At the October OCRW meeting, it was found Hartford had made several payments on the amount owed to the OCRW. In fact, Hartford told the OCRW it would pay off the money it owes by the end of the year.

Cox was unaware of the payments when he gave his report to the city commission, while, at the same time, Hartford knew it had made the payments. The situation turned out to be a miscommunication on each side.

Also at the October OCRW meeting, after it’s newest representative, Mary Belle Fisher, was elected to the board, the city of Hartford presented a proposal to the OCRW board.

The proposal outlined a way the OCRW could lower its rate and pay out around $2 million it held in reserves and still maintain operations. The OCRW agreed to review Hartford’s proposal.

According to commissioner Keith Dale, City Superintendent Larry Carter spoke with Andy Lange with Kentucky Rural Water Association. Lange recently performed a rate study for both the city of Beaver Dam and the OCRW.

According to Carter, Lange said Hartford’s proposal, minus the pay out of $2 million held in reserves, was almost identical to the plan he presented to the OCRW in his rate study. The OCRW did not accept Lange’s rate study due to incorrect criteria, according to OCRW Superintendent Kevin Bradley.

While the city commission was on board for a rate cut from the OCRW, both Sandefur and Dale were concerned about returning $2 million back to the cities.

“I don’t know whether that’s a good idea or not,” Dale said. “If there’s ever an expansion needed and that money’s been distributed, it might be a little hard to get it back. If all of the cities aren’t capable of paying it back at the time, then somebody might get stuck with a pretty good rate increase out of the deal.”

“I’m kind of like Keith (Dale), I’d love to have the money, don’t get me wrong, but we’ve got money in there. (The OCRW) has been very gracious by discounting the rates over the last two years, which has been a help to us,” Sandefur said. “I’ve talked with some others on the (OCRW) board and they may like the idea of continuing some rebates like that, as long as that reserves stays at a certain level.”

Sandefur was also concerned about a new industry, which might use the OCRW, moving into the Bluegrass Crossing Industrial Park. The OCRW has promised to dedicate 25 percent, or 500,000 gallons of capacity to Bluegrass Crossings, when needed. The OCRW is operating now at around 77 percent capacity.

“I did talk to some people who are involved with Green River Regional Industrial Development Authority and they said it would probably cost $4 million to get the system to accommodate the 500,000 for Bluegrass Crossings,” Sandefur said. “So if (the OCRW) has about $3 million plus in the bank, that’s a great start toward anything like that, if we needed it.”

Cox, who was at the city commission meeting, also pointed out the OCRW facility was 10 years old and was estimated to last around 20 years.

“We’re going to be having lots of problems in the next few years and then 20 years will be up before you know it,” Cox said. “Somebody could get stuck with a big bill if you send money everywhere.”

To view this part of the Nov. 13 meeting of the Beaver Dam City Commission, see video below.

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