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Utility rate increase passed in Union City

Utility rate increase passed in Union City

Posted: Wednesday, October 8, 2008 9:11 pm
By: Donna Ryder Messenger Associate Editor



Messenger Associate Editor


Union City residents may not have had an increase in their property tax rate, but they will be seeing an increase in utility rates.

The Union City Council approved the certified tax rate of $1.8132 per $100 of assessed property, which is supposed to bring in the same amount of money as the previous $2.02 before reappraisal. 

It also agreed to make the water and sewer fund stand on its own by increasing the rates by 20 percent.

Over the past three years, the water and sewer department has not been making enough money to pay the bills and the remainder of the expenses has been coming from the city’s fund balance. After the third year, if the city does not correct the problem on its own, the State of Tennessee will come in and set new rates for the city.

The city’s refuse collection fund also was being subsidized by the general fund until the council recently increased the rates in that department as well.

New water rates include a minimum of $7.20 for the first 2,000 gallons inside the city limits, with $2.16 charged per 1,000 gallons for the next 23,000 gallons and $1.44 for each 1,000 gallons used over 25,000 gallons. Outside the city limits, the rates will be $14.40 minimum for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.24 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Sewer rates include a minimum charge of $6.78 inside the city limits and $14.94 outside the city limits with $1.92 per 1,000 gallons treated for customers inside the city limits and $1.98 for those outside the city limits.

The city’s total 2008-09 budget for all services is $17,041,754, down from $18,927,683 in 2007-08. The general government budget is $11,148,961, which is a decrease of $1,062,340. The water and sewer budget is $4,048,525, which is a decrease of $619,007. The restricted services budget is $1,844,268, down by $204,582. 

The city must also include the electric system’s budget of $30,928,105 and the school system’s budget of $13,333,436 in its appropriations ordinance. The city’s direct appropriation for education is $1,212,500 for general operation. Property insurance for the education system is projected to be $46,170.

The budget reduces the number of city employees by two from 143. There are no salary increases, though employees eligible for merit increases will still receive them.

Anticipated revenues include $301,000 in the state street aid fund, with the city expected to use $41,688 from that fund’s fund balance. There is $13,359 included to demolish dilapidated buildings, $150,000 for a railroad off-load site in the new industrial park and $26,000 for the city’s match on the replacement of the bridge on West Cheatham Street. There are no major capital outlay projects in the turf management or the parks and cemeteries departments and the only money budgeted for the swimming pool was for the 11⁄2 months it was operated in 2008. The swimming pool will not be operated in 2009.

The city council also approved appropriations to various organizations, including $167,244 for the Obion County Public Library, $4,000 for the Obion County Museum, $39,575 for the Vocational Rehab Center (much of which is paid back through a lease agreement with the state government), $8,000 for the Obion County Senior Citizens Center, $2,000 for the Obion County Ministerial Association, $3,000 for the Obion County Arts Council, $5,000 for Obion County Habitat for Humanity, $1,750 for the 1-69 Coalition, $1,000 for Community Development Services Inc., $10,000 for Obion County Fall Fest (now known has CornFest), $7,200 to Northwest Tennessee Boys & Girls Clubs of America and $10,000 for Cal Ripken. An annual payment of $32,628 for the Joint Economic Development Corp. Step-up Program has been delayed one year.

Major water and sewer expenditures include $350,000 for a new well; $40,000 for engineering services for the rehabilitation of streets, curbs, gutters and sidewalks in the area of Church, Exchange and High streets; $110,000 to paint the Nailling Drive water tank; $175,000 to extend water and sewer lines to the Discovery Park of America; $39,000 to finish infrastructure rehabilitation project No. 2; and $53,000 for repairs to the decanters and basins at the Strub Plant.

Restricted services include $176,000 in the cemetery perpetual care fund, $25,185 for drug enforcement and $1,291,000 for the solid waste fund. Anticipated revenues of $170,000 from the hotel/motel tax will be appropriated with 42 percent going to the Obion County Industrial Development Corp., 30 percent to Obion County Chamber of Commerce, 14 percent to Main Street Union City Inc. and 5 percent to the city’s general fund for administrative duties.

The city council also agreed to increase the price for cemetery plots. The old rates of $200 for two plots, $400 for four plots and $800 for eight lots, with those prices doubled for residents outside the city limits, were set in the 1950s, according to city manager Don Thornton. The new rates will be $600, $1,200 and $2,400, respectively, for anyone who wishes to purchase them.

During the meeting Tuesday evening, the council rescinded an earlier motion which called for the city to fund the convention center at the Discovery Park of America. Jim Rippy, president of Discovery Park of America board of directors, appeared before the council members and informed them the Robert E. and Jenny D. Kirkland Foundation will pay for the convention center and promote it with the assistance of the chamber. He said they understand the position the city is in and honor the decision made by the council. He left open an opportunity for a partnership with the city should the council decide in the future it wishes to assist with the project.

The council also delayed action on a contract with the Tennessee Department of Transportation regarding a grant for an alternative transportation grant.

In other business, after the meeting was opened in prayer by city attorney Jim Glasgow Jr., the council:

• Accepted a bid of $233,541 from Coffey Construction for dirt work for the railroad off-load site at the new industrial park. The project is being funded with a Fast Track Infrastructure Development Program grant, of which the city will pay 21 percent. Any industry in the city will be able to utilize this service, Thornton said. The bid is subject to state approval. The council also approved a contract with Northwest Tennessee Development District for administrative services on the grant.

• Approved a three-year contract with the Ken-Tenn Humane Society Inc. for animal shelter services. The society will be paid $18,978 per year, the same as the city has paid for shelter services in past years. The society will have to meet all requirements for state law and Tennessee humane societies. It must also have insurance and a performance bond.

Thornton said the city will pick up the cats and dogs and take them to the shelter. The animals must be kept four full days in order for the owners to claim them before they can adopted or rescued. The city will pay fees for euthanizing the animals per a pre-set fee schedule.

The society will lease the property from the city for a period of 20 years with an option for an additional 10 years at $1 per year. All construction must comply with building codes. The society may not sublet the building without the approval of the council.

The society will also be responsible for paying its own utilities.

• Learned that Sandra Lee and Dorothy McMullen wished to withdraw their resignations from the City Beautiful Commission and that Shelia Ervin had submitted her resignation letter. The board accepted Ms. Ervin’s resignation from her Ward 5 seat. Anyone in Ward 5 who wishes to serve on the commission should contact a city council member.

• Adopted an identity theft program and policy.

• Heard Barker Brothers is planning to bring in additional limb trucks this week. 

Associate Editor Donna Ryder can be contacted by e-mail at
Published in The Messenger 10.08.08

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