City To Borrow 10.5 Million

Lenoir City Council voted Monday night to borrow 10.5 million dollars to for water and sewer upgrades and expansions. Problem is, council obligated the tax payers not the rate payers to foot the bill.

For years, LCUB's water and sewer systems have been in a continual state of decay finally reaching the point that the state had to step in to force the utility to repair their water and sewer systems. As was reported here more than a year ago, dozens of the fire hydrants in and around the city either do not work or do not provide enough water for firefighters to hook their lines to. The water lines, many that are very old, are also in such poor condition that water can barely run through them.

The sewer system is as bad if not worse. Miles of the sewer system are far over taxed causing raw sewage to overflow into the ground and  into Town Creek and other streams and waterways. Parts of the sewer system along Hwy. 321 are so bad that the state has informed the city not to issue any building permits till the system is upgraded.

The sewer treatment plant it's self is in such poor shape that the state has put LCUB under a commissioner's order to repair the facility and has been paying thousands in fines to the state for plant failures. Cost to repair the system, 15 million which the city is also about to borrow.

Councilmen seemed not to understand why the city was having to borrow the money to bail out LCUB and commit the city residents for the loan nor could anyone answer the question. Both the 5.5 million and the 5 million loan agreement pledge, "the full faith and credit of the Municipality" to repay the loans. Last week the LCUB board voted to increase the water and sewer rates beginning January 08. According to LCUB personal, water rates will increase 3% in 2008 and another 3% in 2009. Sewer rates which are already more than 100% of the water rates will increase 5% in 2008, 10% in 2009, 10% in 2010 and another 5% in 2011. City residents are going to find it more and more painful to flush.

The financial mess LCUB now finds it's self in was not necessary and stems directly from incompetent and poor management for years. It's ironic that Lenoir City will fine residents for failure to maintain their property, yet their own utility has failed miserably to maintain their property. Maybe LCUB officials should be cited into Livability Court before Judge Vann and held accountable for not maintaining their property.