City of Portland (2)

City leaders voted to increase sewer rates recently to help pay for upgrades to the system.

          The City of Portland’s Enterprise Budget will include a 15 percent increase in the sewer rate to help fund Phase 2 of the sewer project which comes in at a cost of $9 million for work at the plant and $6 million for work on the collection system.

The Enterprise Budget includes the Water/Sewage Budget and the Gas Budget and  was been approved on first reading by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

          The Gas Enterprise is expected to have $5 million in revenue with $5.2 million in appropriations. Gas will have a carryover from last year’s fund balance to cover the deficit.

          The revenue for the Water/Sewer Enterprise is expected to be approximately $23 million including the debt proceeds from a $15 million bond. The appropriations are expected to be $25 million. There is a carryover from the current year bond, which should cover the deficit.

          Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation is requiring Portland to eliminate inflows and infiltration issues (water bubbling out of manholes) and violations at the plant. TDEC wants to see proof that Portland has an active plan in place.

According to Finance Director Doug Yoeckel, if Portland doesn’t show an active effort to improve these situations, TDEC could halt any additional sewer taps which would halt the growth the city is expecting.

Yoeckel said, “The Enterprise Budget is a hard one this year because of the sewer issues and having to borrow a large amount of money, but if we don’t take these actions and show positive progression then TDEC can actually come in and tell us what our rates are and address the issues.

“In other words, we’re trying to handle it effectively ourselves. We don’t want outside interference telling us what to do. If we don’t make progression forward and they say you’re on a permit moratorium, you know what that means. It ends all the growth, even at the interchange.”

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