Wednesday, September 10, 2003

City may sell water system

Higher bills lead Taylor Mill to consider dissolving district

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

TAYLOR MILL - Residents' concerns about a 59 percent increase in water costs have prompted a debate about whether this Kenton County city should stay in the water distribution business.

Nearly all the cities in Kenton and Campbell counties are part of the Northern Kentucky Water District, which serves more than 300,000 customers. However, in a throwback to the days before the water district consolidated many small water distribution systems, Taylor Mill operates its own water district. The city buys its water wholesale from the Northern Kentucky Water District.

"At this point, talks are just in the preliminary stages,'' said Taylor Mill Mayor Mark Kreimborg. "We're trying to find out if it's in our best interests to sell (the water system) or to keep it.''

Last month, Taylor Mill City Commission agreed to raise the water rates, passing on an increase that the city has been paying for its water since mid-June. That 59 percent increase will appear on users' October water bills.

The price hike raises the monthly base bill for residential customers in Taylor Mill from $10.20 for the first 2,000 gallons of water to $16.22, said Taylor Mill Administrator Jill Bailey. About 60 percent of the Taylor Mill Water District's 4,500 customers are in south Covington, part of Independence and unincorporated Kenton County. Monthly base bills for users outside Taylor Mill are rising from $10.63 for the first 2,000 gallons of water to $16.90.

Four residents recently criticized the rate increase and asked city commissioners to look into selling the water district.

Taylor Mill Commissioner Sara Voelker, who cast the lone vote against raising water rates, said last month that it's time to sell the water system. She said then that Taylor Mill is serving as a middleman in buying water from the water district, and that cutting out the middleman would save money.

Taylor Mill, which has been in the water business since 1960, uses revenue generated from the water system to pay for public works.

"If you sell (the water system), can you come up with enough money to pay for public works?'' Kreimborg asked. "That's one of the issues we have to consider.''

Forty-three years ago, Taylor Mill wanted to get city water to help the city grow. However, the city of Covington didn't want to extend its water lines outside the city limits, and the Northern Kentucky Water District didn't exist then, said Taylor Mill Commissioner Lee Moening. In 1960, Moening was one of the leaders in the effort to get city water and sewers for Taylor Mill.

Kreimborg could not say when a decision might be made on a possible sale of Taylor Mill's water system or what the price might be if the city decides to sell it.


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