Don’t blame the Town of Pulaski!
That is the message from town officials after once again this year hearing complaints and questions from town water customers over a $2.95 fee added to the April water bills.
Councilman Joseph Goodman asked for a discussion on the fee during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Town Manager Shawn Utt explained that back in the 90’s, the fee was passed on to waterwork operators – like the Town of Pulaski – who provided public water.
Utt said the fee set by the state is a minimum of $400 or not to exceed $3 per water connection.
“We have 4,100 or so water customers,” Utt said, noting the fee owed by the town is usually in the $13,000 range. The amount is included in the town’s annual budget and is, as Utt noted, a “pass-through” item which is paid by the town, but collected from water customers through the $2.95 fee.
“We charge customers in the April billing and have for 15 to 20 years, maybe more,” Utt told council.
Since the fee isn’t on the bills every month, seeing it in April usually draws responses from water bill customers.
Utt said normally the town’s finance staff hears the responses from citizens over the fee. However, this year Finance Director Rebecca Reece had a notice placed on Facebook notifying customers of the charge before it occurred. Now council members and administrative staff are hearing the comments instead.
Utt explained the fee pays for training programs for waterwork operators.
“So if we have turnover at the water plant, we get to take advantage of the fee,” Goodman asked. Utt agreed, saying when waterwork employees have to travel for training, the town pays for travel and meals, but not the training itself as it has already been paid for by the fee.
Utt said there is a similar fee involving the building department and permits, but the fee there is added to each building permit.
Utt told council that each locality he checked with handles the fee the same as Pulaski.
He said the town could just absorb the fee and not pass it on to customers, but that just isn’t the way it’s been done in the past.
Goodman said it was better for the town to charge customers for the fee.
“Or, we could just charge 24.5 cents per month,” Utt suggested. No one on council seemed to think that was a good suggestion.
In Other News:
New Fire Truck Arrives
The Town of Pulaski’s Fire Department has received its new Rescue Engine.
The new truck, costing some $620,000 in county and town funds, arrived Wednesday.
The truck, according to Fire Chief Robbie Kiser, is a Smell custom-built fire truck on a Spartan Chassis with a 500 horsepower Cummins engine.
The Rescue Engine is a multi-purpose truck capable of not only fighting fires, but also will be used for extrication and disentanglement of trapped victims in vehicle accidents or rescues, traffic control, small haz-mat incidents, and will be available when needed to answer EMS calls.
The truck will replace two of the department’s oldest trucks.
By MIKE WILLIAMS, The Patriot