Eddyville water and sewer customers will be paying 3% more beginning July 1 under a four-step bump tied to Phase 2 of a sewer rehab project. And city officials are asking a handful of customers to answer a few questions in the hope of keeping rates steady.

An ordinance introduced June 1 to increase water and sewer rates across the board was approved Monday at a special meeting of Eddyville City Council. It takes the minimum monthly residential combined water-sewer bill to $52.03, up slightly more than $1.50 from the current base cost. Separate rate adjustments for the other 15 classifications of customers were also approved. Sewer rates account for 53% of each combined monthly billed.

The measure was approved 5-1 with Councilwoman Leigh Ann Conger opposing the ordinance.

The phased sewer rehabilitation in the city is aimed primarily at repairing cracks and leaks in lines that allow groundwater and stormwater to infiltrate the system. Dilution of sewage decreases the efficiency of treatment, and may cause sewage volumes to exceed design capacity. The City of Kuttawa is contending with a similar issue, with construction currently underway.

The adjustment the third installment of a six-phase biennial rate increase agreed to four years ago with the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority in order to secure a low-interest $1.5 million loan for sewer rehab. The first adjustment, a 15% hike, came in 2016 and was followed in 2018 with a 3% increase. With Monday’s ordinance to increase rates, 3% will also be added to bills effective July 1 of 2022, 2024 and 2026.

The second phase of sewer improvements is currently in the planning and design stage.

Important survey

Fifty-seven customers in the area of the targeted sewer rehab will have a big say in future water and sewer rates.

Those people, randomly selected from about 325 residents on the south side of Fairview Avenue, have been sent an income survey that Mayor John Choat said could earn the city a $1 million Community Development Block Grant toward the current rehab work. If the city qualifies, that would essentially cut the estimated cost of the project to $1.5 million.

“It’s so important for people to fill out that survey,” Choat said.

“Receiving grant funds benefits all residents using city water and sewer because it allows us to keep our costs low,” he wrote in a letter to those receiving the questionnaire.

The mayor said the survey asks what some might consider intrusive questions, but assured the results will be kept under wraps. They will not even be seen locally. Pennyrile Area Development District in Hopkinsville is handling the grant process and randomly selected survey recipients. Once complete, the income survey results will become a part of the grant application.

“The results will be held in confidence,” Choat said. “I assure you of that.”

Of course, the 14-question survey is optional for those recipients, but the mayor is hoping they understand the importance of responding. He asks that anyone refusing the survey contact city hall so that another randomly selected resident can be sent the survey.