The Cumberland City Council took a step toward temporarily increasing the cost of water for customers of the city’s water service Tuesday in order to meet obligations on a long-standing water bond.
Council member Yvonne Gilliam said money had been put in the city’s budget to pay the bond.
“We did budget,” said Mayor Carolyn Elliott. “But, in order to have payment … you actually have to have money coming in. We didn’t have it.”
Gilliam inquired about income from the city’s water service being used to cover the bond payment.
“Do you not have to pay more for your gas?” responded Elliott. “Are you not paying more for a loaf of bread? Did you’re light bill not go up? This city has not raised rates since 2004. We are living on a 2004 income in a 2014 world.”
After some discussion, the council opted to temporarily increase revenue from the city’s water service to help pay the bond.
The council heard and approved a first reading of an ordinance to increase the $6 surcharge already added to customer’s water bills to $16. The ordinance contained a provision that it be reviewed six months after the increase goes into effect.
A roll call vote of the council showed all members present to be in support of the ordinance.
The panel also heard during Tuesday’s meeting a plea for financial consideration for the Tri-Cities Heritage Development Corporation (TCHDC), an organization which works toward improving the Tri-City area.
Tri-Cities Heritage Chairman Cleon Cornett told the council he was there to speak to the panel about cash flow.
“As you know, we are supported by the Tri-Cities,” said Cornett. “We have corporate contributors as well as local businesses and some individuals.”
Cornett pointed out through the SOAR program, Promise Zone initiative and similar resources, there is a real chance for the area to move forward in the next few years.
“I believe we have a future,” said Cornett. “I believe that we can make some Herculean moves in the next few months or couple of years with these organizations. Supposedly they are here to help us. And I believe it.”
According to Cornett, even with the support they have from other organizations, support from the city is still needed.
“The next time you look at accounts payable, please don’t take us out of your hat,” said Cornett. “We need your continued support.”
Elliott asked Cornett to let the council know what the TCHDC did for the community.
Cornett answered he would put together a packet explaining the group’s activities to present at the next council meeting. He pointed out that most of the group works without any sort of compensation.
“They’re right in the thick of things,” said Magistrate David Kennedy, who was present to show his support of the TCHDC. “Even with the coal severance tax money drying up as it is, the fiscal court and our state reps still saw fit that we help fund this organization.”
Joe P. Asher may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 1161 or on Twitter #joe_hde