The statement: "Guess who supports the water rate increase? Jim Newberry."
Lexington Vice Mayor Jim Gray in a television ad criticizing Mayor Jim Newberry
The ruling: False.
The facts: Jim Newberry supported a $164 million Kentucky American Water treatment plant and pipeline that began operating late last month, but he has consistently said he opposes the 37 percent rate increase the company has asked the state Public Service Commission to approve to pay for the project.
Newberry has said the project was needed to augment the city's water supply, but Kentucky American is trying to squeeze too much profit out of its investment. The Gray campaign had it right in an earlier ad that mentioned "Jim Newberry's support for American Water's construction costs." But Newberry has opposed how the utility recoups those costs. Newberry set up a page on the city's Web site to gather signatures of people who opposed the increase. He spoke against the increase at a PSC hearing in Lexington, then he delivered the signatures at another hearing in Frankfort.
The ad also suggests that Kentucky American is seeking a 60 percent rate increase, which isn't true. The words "60 percent" flash on the screen as the ad claims that Newberry supports "the water rate increase." But that figure combines an increase the company was granted last year and the one it has asked for this year.
The company already has put its latest 37 percent increase into effect without a PSC ruling, but if the agency approves less, which is likely, it will have to refund some of the money it has collected. A decision from the PSC is expected in the next couple of weeks.
The ad is correct in saying that Newberry received "tens of thousands" in campaign contributions from people associated with Kentucky American and that Gray has received none. The figure includes contributions from both of Newberry's mayoral campaigns.
Andy Mead, firstname.lastname@example.org
The Herald-Leader will fact-check statements made by candidates and their surrogates in the campaigns for Lexington mayor, the 6th Congressional District and U.S. Senate.