Thursday, June 22, 2000

Plan to restrict water use in droughts OK'd

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — A plan enabling the Northern Kentucky Water District to enforce water-use restriction in a drought situation was approved on first reading Wednesday by Campbell County Fiscal Court.

        The same plan was also approved this week by the Kenton County Fiscal Court.

        “We are preparing for the

        future,” Ron Barrow, Water District interim general manager, told county commissioners. “We want something in place if we need it. We want the backing of the fiscal courts to put some teeth in our (water use) plan.”

        The plan has four levels of restriction for residential and commercial water customers, both voluntary and mandatory. But it would be implemented only if the water district's capacity was dramatically lowered because of drought conditions and heavy water use.

        “By having the fiscal courts involved, we could have a police presence if necessary to enforce water-use restrictions,” Mr. Barrow said. Moving from one level of restriction to the next would be at the discretion of the fiscal courts.

        The first level of restriction would be a voluntary limit on outdoor watering, using the odd/even day method. The second level would make the odd/even program mandatory for residential users, and the third level would ask all residential and commercial customers to eliminate all nonessential outdoor watering.

        The final level would make the nonessential ban mandatory and would be backed by the possibility of a $250 fine and even jail time.

        The Fiscal Court also approved, on second reading, the 2000 county budget. Commissioners had spent several months working to balance the budget, which initially showed a deficit of nearly $1 million unless reserve funds were used.

        “We're in a much better position than we were last year,” Commissioner Bill Verst said. “We knew what we were up against, and we knew what we had to do.”

        He said the first task facing the fiscal court members was keeping expenses at the same level as the previous year. Other measures included a more aggressive license fee collection program, and an increase in the county payroll tax.

        The cap on the county payroll tax was raised earlier this year to bring in an estimated $850,000 more per year.

        “We took a very methodical approach, and we were able to achieve most of what we wanted to do,” Mr. Verst said. “We must continue to be aggressive in tax collection and be proactive in finding other revenue sources while holding down expenses.”


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