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Nashvillians could see nearly $10 water rate increase

Boil Water Advisory In Effect For Centerville Water Systems Customers
Posted at 8:38 PM, Oct 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-04 19:28:05-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Nashvillians will soon be paying more for their water due to aging infrastructure.

Mayor John Cooper, and At-Large council Member Bob Mendes, who is also the chair of the budget and finance committee, met with the State Comptroller's office Thursday to talk about the city's budget concerns.

The comptroller raised concerns with Metro Water Services over the past three years when the finances for MWS were in the red by millions of dollars for three years straight.

According to John Dunn, spokesperson for the state comptroller, the city had to act and become financially stable, or else the state would force them to hike their rates.

"They are required to be self-sufficient," said Dunn. "Which means that customers are supposed to pay the amount of money to operate that utility. So, we would like to see that metro is breaking even with the operation of its utility system."

Part of the conversation focused on Nashville's aging infrastructure that's in need of repairs and replacements.

According to MWS spokesperson Sonia Allman, Metro Water Services has over 3,000 miles of water main and another 3,100 miles of sewer main. Some of the water main was installed in the early 1900s. Allman said much of the system is aging and needs replacement.

"The last water and sewer rate increase was almost 10 years ago and it had been 13 years prior to that," said Allman.

Since Metro Water hasn't been making enough money, they've been unable to update the water system.

"Metro water has indicated to us that it plans to bring a rate increase to the Metro Council prior to January 1st. One thing that's very interesting, if rates do not change this year, Metro stands to lose 45 million dollars in the water department," said Dunn.

During council budget hearings earlier this year, the head of the Metro Water Department hinted at a rate increase - something that hasn't been done for a decade.

Dunn said it seems like the city knows it needs the rate increase, but Metro Councilman Bob Mendes said it should've never come to the point where it was nearly mandated by the state.

"How can the city's finances be suffering when the city is booming? It seems whether it's property tax or spending downtown or water rates that we've just got this pattern of city leadership has ignored reality for too long and just not done what they needed to do to have prudent finances for the city," said Mendes.

The Comptroller's office reinforced that idea Thursday saying a rate hike would need to be in place by January to pay for the work that is needed.

There are multiple factors that work into the rate increase.

For a typical family home, a person might expect an increase of about $9 or more to their monthly service.

Then, there would be incremental rate increments every year for the foreseeable future.