City providing services, not annexing new areas

Published 12:53 pm Friday, December 6, 2013

Editor’s Note: The Wednesday, Dec. 4, Daily Leader report that the city of Brookhaven was seeking to expand its annexation plans was in error. Below please find a story clarifying and correcting the earlier report.

“We are absolutely not adding, or seeking to add more territory to the city,” Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox said Thursday morning.

The latest action among city officials concerns the progress to provide city residences in areas already annexed to city water and sewer services. This is a separate, yet related, phase of the original agreement that was decided in 2007.

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“We are planning and prioritizing now on how to move forward. We are dealing with areas that already are part of the city,” Ward Six Alderman David Phillips emphasized.

At Tuesday night’s board of aldermen meeting, city officials put on a united front and agreed to move full steam ahead in the execution of the agreement.

To begin, Alderman Phillips requested the board approve the hire of WGK Engineering to officially begin the planning process and prioritize the needs of the city on water and sewer improvements and expansion.

Ward Two Alderman Terry Bates made a motion that the board do a financial analysis and determine the city’s ability to fund, and at what rate, water and sewer improvements and expansion.

Ward One Alderman Randy Belcher requested funding for the appraisal of the Brignal Area Water System for the possible purchase from Lincoln Rural Water. Belcher then requested the mayor begin negotiations on the possible purchase of the Brignal Sewer System.

Ward Four Alderman Shirley Estes requested that new areas to be served will be parceled and must have an 80 percent or greater connection rate to be considered for city water and sewage service.

In part, city officials say an optimistic economic forecast helped them make their decision to implement water and sewer expansion plans.

“We are seeing historically low interest rates and good sales tax collections. Now is the time to move forward,” Phillips said.

As part of the effort to achieve their goals, the city listed reasons why providing city water service makes sense. Among these include:

• The city supplies water for approximately .004 cents per gallon and treats sewer for .004 per gallon or 2.5 gallons of water for one cent.

• The minimum city water bill is $11.45 while the minimum rural water bill is $20.

• A five-gallon container of bottled water costs more than $6. Five gallons of city water, on the other hand, costs two cents.

• Over 60 percent of city residents pay the minimum bill that equates to the use of 3,000 gallons or less per month.

• Water and sewer are services offered to the community. Those who are not receiving either are not paying for this service. Water and sewer must be fee-based and self-supporting by state law.

• City officials will do everything in their power to keep rates as low as possible.

The city of Brookhaven has already committed $1.7 million over four years and has approved construction that will cost $1.7 million more, totaling $3.4 million. Some of these construction projects are now under way, while other projects are in the works, according to Phillips.

During implementation of the 2007 annexation agreement, the city expanded its borders from seven square miles to roughly 21 square miles.