Fayette County

Council takes first step to force water company to discuss rate hike

Lexington: The Urban County Council gave first reading on Thursday to a resolution that would ask Mayor Jim Newberry to take any action, including legal steps, to compel representatives of Kentucky American to appear before the council’s members to answer questions about a propose increase in water rates.

The council, mayor and water company have been tussling in recent weeks after Kentucky American filed a request with the state Public Service Commission asking for a 37 percent increase in residential water rates. The company has said it’s necessary to pay for a $162 million treatment plant and pipeline it is building. The council asked the water company to appear, but the company declined, saying the city could ask questions as part of the PSC’s hearing on the rate case.

“One of my biggest concerns is in 2007, they presented to us their theory to sell water to surrounding communities to lower our costs,” said Councilman Julian Beard. “To my knowledge, they haven’t sold any. That doesn’t have anything to do with the PSC. They could come and talk to us about that.”

Newberry said in a news release Thursday that the PSC has approved the city as an intervenor in the water case. Intervenor status allows a seat at the table, so to speak, and makes the city government eligible to file briefs in the case and work in negotiating rate settlements with utility companies that are presented to the PSC. Intervening is very routine for a city.

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