Water and sewer rates in and around the city of Corbin are likely increase in 2018, but City Utilities Commission leaders say they are still among the cheapest in Kentucky.
The CUC’s three-member board of directors met last Tuesday and approved to go ahead with the rate increases following three months of discussion of the issue. The move came on the heels of a rate study performed at the request of General Manager Ron Herd.
“We need to increase our reserves and recover more of our depreciation so, in the future, we have money to replace pump stations and replace lines,” Herd said.
“The new sewer plant project has taken some of our reserves … Even after the increase, we are still the cheapest in the area.”
The study shows that, for residential and commercial customers, with 5,000 gallons of usage, water bills will go from $13.15 per month to $14.47 for customers inside the city of Corbin, and increase of $1.32. For the same usage, customers outside the city will go from $20 to $23.
A special “rural rate” for customers who live fairly far from the city limits goes from $26 monthly to $29.90.
On sewer rates, average bills will go from $19.40 to $25.22, an increase of $5.82, for customers living inside the city. Outside customers will go from $28.75 to $38.81.
“We had to raise those a lot higher because we’ve got about $500,000 in debt service going on line next year for the sewer plant project.
CUC borrowed $8 million to expand capacity at its sewer processing facility, located just across the city’s borders in extreme southern Laurel County.
A little over half of CUC’s customers reside inside the corporate limits of the city of Corbin.
CUC’s last increase came in 2014 when it increased fixed monthly fees. This is the first actual rate increase in quite some time.
Before the rates go into effect, a public hearing must be held to allow input by those affected. Herd said no date for the hearing has yet been set.
“I’m sure there are going to be people against it, but we can’t not raise our rates,” Herd said. “As costs go up, and our infrastructure ages, we have to do something. They probably should have been higher a long time ago to get our reserves up so we could do what we need to do.”
Herd said the increase to water bills should produce an extra $214,000 a year in revenue. The raise in sewer costs will generate $510,000 in extra revenue, $485,000 of which will be dedicated to debt service on the sewer plant project.
Even with the increases, CUC’s rates rank it near the bottom in the state in overall cost to customers.