Members of the Cumberland City Council recently approved a resolution to employ an outside engineering firm to conduct a study of water and sewage operations in Cumberland, Benham and Lynch. The Cumberland Valley Area Development District (CVADD) has appointed the firm, Ken Virons of Frankfort, to conduct the study. The appointment ensured the study would be “impartial,” Cumberland Mayor Carl Hatfield said.
At Tuesday's regular meeting of the Cumberland City Council, Hatfield reported the study is ongoing and an agreement from Benham and Lynch would be needed to proceed with plans for a merger that would reportedly serve 4,110 residents.
Tim Schwendeman, assistant director for economic development with the CVADD, said Ken Virons has performed work for the county, but not the Tri-Cities. The study, he said, will help determine if a merger “will work and how it needs to work.” The firm will provide information and make recommendations on the details of the merger, including what size of water tank would be needed.
“It's a study to see if they (Tri-Cities) can physically interconnect with their water and sewer,” Schwendeman said. “If they want to merge, that's the route we'll take.”
Schwendeman said the study is expected to be finished in a few months.
Hatfield said the three cities each have of a water and sewer plant and each are responsible for constant repairs and upgrades. A merger would reduce costs for the cities and provide improved services at a cheaper rate for customers, he said.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, Hatfield said the council will likely schedule a special meeting to further discuss the possibility of transferring the city's dispatching services to the Harlan Police Department.
Hatfield said the transfer could save the city at least $30,000 annually, but the city has chosen to first undergo two 30-day testing periods to help determine the feasibility of officially transferring its services. The city is recording the volume of calls coming to its dispatching center during the first 30 days of testing and will then transfer its services to the Harlan Police Department for a second round of testing.
Hatfield said Benham and Lynch will be included in the testing since both receive dispatching services from Cumberland. But that does not mean the two would be required to transfer their services to Harlan if Cumberland chooses to do so, he said.
Lynch Mayor Tom Vicini, however, said the city would likely transfer its services if Cumberland chooses to go through with the transaction. The transfer would not affect 911 services, which are separately handled by the Kentucky State Police.
In other action from Tuesday's Cumberland City Council meeting:
-- Council members held a first reading of an ordinance to amend a flood damage ordinance after receiving revisions and corrections from the Kentucky Division of Water. Ordinance No. 395 allowed changes to be made to the flood damage ordinance, which was No. 393. The council will have a second reading Aug. 8.
-- A “memorandum of understanding” was addressed that called for a deadline extension of a water project that will extend lines from Rosspoint to Letcher County. The city of Cumberland has received a grant in the amount of $250,000, of which $103,856.27 has yet to be drawn, for the project. Under House Bill 502, the extension will ensure those funds are available for use until June 30, 2008. The project will be a joint venture between the city and the county.
-- Council member Loretta Cornett expressed concerns with “large pot holes” on Fairchild Street. Hatfield said maintenance crews will be filling the holes. He also said paving in the New York section will not continue, but is on the “next list for blacktopping.”
The next regular meeting of the Cumberland City Council will be Aug. 8 at 6:30 p.m. at city hall.