Kuttawa City Council on Monday appointed the wife of the city's late mayor to fill his seat and introduced ordinances to increase water rates and the deposit to tap onto the utility.
Barbara Campbell becomes Kuttawa's first female mayor, filling the unexpired term of her late husband, James "Jimmy" Campbell, who died Dec. 11 after just a year in office. Nominated by Mayor Pro-tem Tom Simpson as the "logical choice," Barbara Campbell was unanimously approved to finish the remainder of the four-year term.
"Mayor Campbell had such vision and goals for this community," Simpson said in introducing his nomination following a moment of silence for the late mayor. "He saw some come to fruition. (Barbara Campbell) is the only individual aware of most, if not all, of his visions for this city."
No other nominations were made for the position.
Campbell worked alongside her husband of 46 years for most of his three-plus decades in public service as Lyon circuit clerk, Lyon County judge-executive and Kuttawa mayor.
If not serving in an official capacity as deputy circuit clerk for 20 years, then as a trusted advisor.
Lyon County Sheriff Brent White, a longtime friend of the Campbells, said Barbara was at Kuttawa City Hall nearly every day with her husband. The sheriff called her the "First Lady of Lyon County" for her involvement in the community and her late husband's "right hand" in getting things done.
Campbell said she was approached about the idea of finishing out her husband's term that ends at the close of 2022, but was not immediately ready to agree.
"I was still grieving, so I told them to come back," she said. "After time, I was approached again, and I told them, 'I think I'm ready for it.'"
Simpson named off several initiatives the late mayor had already achieved in his year in office, including infrastructure improvements, filling departmental needs for equipment and beautification efforts around city hall and along U.S. 641 with signage branding the city.
"The city was moving in a positive direction and will continue to do so (under Barbara Campbell)," Simpson said.
"(Jimmy) had a lot of other things in mind," the new mayor said, pointing to the revival of Kuttawa Day as one of his proudest achievements.
Barbara Campbell was sworn into office following the meeting in an emotional ceremony led by City Clerk Savannah McLeod, who is close with the Campbell family.
Had the council not acted before Jan. 10, 30 days following the vacancy created by Jimmy Campbell's death, the appointment of mayor would have landed with Gov. Andy Beshear.
That's why the city scheduled the appointment for a week ahead of its regular meeting set for next Monday.
Water rate, deposit increases
The council made double duty of the early meeting. By holding it a week before the regular session, council members took the opportunity to introduce ordinances to increase the city's water rates and the deposit fee to hook onto the utility.
This should allow them to gain final approval at next week's regular meeting and allow time for new rates to begin Feb. 1.
The first ordinance would bump the meter deposit for tapping on to Kuttawa water. The non-commercial fee would go from $25 to $150, while the commercial fee would triple from $50 to $150.
Users outside the city would continue to pay $300.
Simpson said the new rate is needed to better cover fees due when customers move away from a Kuttawa property without paying their final monthly water bill.
"We have found we do not always recoup the expenses owed on move-outs," he said.
A second ordinance would see the incremental usage rates for water rise. The proposed new rate structure would move the minimum bill to $15 from the current $12 for the first 1,000 gallons of use.
The cost for the next 9,000 gallons of usage would move to $5 per 1,000 gallons from the present $3.20. Usage over 10,000 gallons would go up to $4 per 1,000 gallons from the current $3.10.
For city water customers outside the City of Kuttawa, the minimum would go to $25, up $3 from the present cost for the first 1,000 gallons of usage. Each 1,000 gallons used after that would remain $7.50.
Simpson said the reasoning for the increase is twofold -- to cover the cost to produce water and to appease the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority's (KIA) standards for low-interest funding.
"Hopefully, we could be at break-even on producing water," Simpson said, adding that KIA suggested it may pull funding if the city does not move to a rate recommended by Kentucky Rural Water Association Assistant Director Andy Lange following a study.
That study, Simpson said, suggested the minimum water bill move to $15 from $9 at the time the study was conducted.
However, the city chose last year to incrementally reach the recommendation, moving minimum bills to only $12 at the time.
"We didn't want to just jump all at once," Simpson said.
The acting mayor on Monday said a rate study by Pennyrile Area Development District in Hopkinsville shows the average cost in the region for the first 1,000 gallons of municipal water to be $18.65.
By introducing the two ordinances, passage could come at Monday's regular meeting, with new rates likely effective by Feb. 1.