Middlesboro water rates going up

Published 6:06 pm Monday, February 11, 2019

About 5,800 Water Service Kentucky customers in Middlesboro will see an increase in their utility bills in addition to other increases that could be imposed soon by the city.

On Monday, the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) announced that it has granted Water Service Corp. of Kentucky a rate increase that will affect the Middlesboro area as well as 600 customers in Clinton, in Hickman County in the southwest corner of the state.

Residential customers in both areas will see the monthly customer charge increase from $10 to $11.45. The charge per 1,000 gallons of consumption will increase to $5.05 for customers in both areas.

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The current charge is $4.06 per 1,000 gallons in Middlesboro and $4.36 in Clinton. Individual increases will vary with usage patterns.

The new rates are set to take effect immediately; however, for the next year the increases will be offset slightly by a credit that customers will receive to reflect savings to the company from the federal corporate income tax reduction that took effect last year.

In addition, the PSC authorized Water Service Kentucky to impose a $3.33 monthly surcharge on customers residing in the Ambleside subdivision in Middlesboro. Ambleside was developed in 2008 and has a privately owned fire hydrant system.

Water Service Kentucky stated that the developer of the subdivision has never paid the amount owed for the fire protection system. Rather than shut off the hydrants and create a potential hazard, the company continued to bill the developer and wrote off the bad debt.

That means that company’s other customers were subsidizing those costs.

In early February, Middlesboro Mayor Rick Nelson announced that an increase to both garbage and sewer is expected for Middlesboro residents. According to Nelson, council committees are currently working on the proposals.

The PSC reported that the increase for the water company was less than it had requested. Still, Water Service Kentucky will be allowed to increase annual revenue by $535,327, or about 22 percent, though that’s $317,416 less than $852,743 increase requested by the utility.

Water Service Kentucky’s last rate increase was in May 2016, when it was granted an increase of nearly 17 percent. The company also received a 4 percent increase in July 2014.

The PSC regulates more than 1,100 gas, water, sewer, electric and telecommunication utilities in Kentucky.