Lanett discusses increasing water rates at work session

Published 9:00 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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LANETT — In a work session prior to Monday’s council meeting, the Lanett City Council discussed the possibility of increasing its water rates. This is being considered to cover the costs that have been passed on to the city by its water supplier, the Chattahoochee Valley Water Supply District, which runs the water plant on Kroger Block.

Fire & EMS Chief Johnny Allen, who represents the city on the CVWSD board, said the water supply district is passing on the costs it has incurred with some major improvements in the current water plant. “This will be a good thing for everyone on the system once this work is completed,” Allen said.

Allen added that Lanett residents are paying less for their water than East Alabama and Huguley water users. “We’ve been going in the hole on this,” he said. “We have also had problems with water loss, but it’s now not as bad as it used to be.”

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In recent months, the Lanett Council changed its minimum rate charged from 3,000 gallons a month to 2,000 per month. For those who use up to 2,000 gallons in a month, they are being charged $14.25 per month. According to Allen, this is lower than the minimum rates charged by Huguley and East Alabama.” We haven’t gone up in a long time,” he said.

Mayor Jamie Heard said any possible increase would not affect senior citizens. “Most of them don’t use 2,000 gallons a month,” he said.

“Let’s look at the results of a study before we move on this,” said Council Member Angelia Thomas.

Allen said the present water quality being delivered by the water plant wasn’t bad at all and would be even better when the work that’s presently underway is completed.

Heard said that rates need to be raised for those who use lots of water. “It’s not fair for a business that washes 100 cars a day to be charged $14.25 a month,” he said.

No action was taken on this, but it does appear that the rates will be going up by a modest amount for those who use more than 2,000 gallons a month.

On another matter, Council Member Tifton Dobbs talked to fellow council members about a problem involving the historic Fraternal Hall and Stores Building in downtown Lanett. Dobbs has rented a ground-floor room in the building to have church services. A current problem in the building involves water. A water main on First Street in front of the building has been closed off for some time. Water has been supplied to the building from pipes that are on the ground. The city keeps track of this from meters located behind the building.

Dobbs said the owner of the building had filed a claim against the city to fix this. This is the first step in a possible lawsuit. 

“If there is a problem caused by the city it does need to be fixed,” Dobbs said. “What the city did caused her not to have water.”

Some of the meters on the back of the building don’t work because no water has gone through the lines in a long time. “It’s not fair for her not to have water,” Dobbs said. “The water main broke and was cut off to the building.”

Code Enforcement Officer Johnny Wood told the council that lack of water isn’t the only problem with the building. “There’s also problems with wood and pipes inside the building,” he said. “This has to be in good order for the city to supply water inside the building.”

The two-story building was built by the West Point Manufacturing Company in 1906. It went up as a general store for the Lanett community. At the time, the company was committed to having a general store in each mill village in the Valley area. There were such stores in Lanett, Shawmut, Langdale, Fairfax and River View. The ones in Lanett, Langdale and Fairfax still stand.

Street Department head Bo Lauderdale talked to the council about having a set schedule for roadside pickups. 

“We need to have a schedule so the citizens know what day yard debris can be picked up by the curb,” Heard said.

Lauderdale said the new schedule would coincide with the present garbage pickups being done by C&C Sanitation. On Mondays, it takes place on the north side of town from Cherry Drive to North 18th Street. On Tuesdays it’s from Eighth Avenue east to Highway 29 and on Wednesdays it’s on the west side of town. On Thursdays, pickups are around the portions of Highway 50 that are in the city. Pickups are in Plant City and West Shawmut on Fridays.

The city has two kinds of debris trucks. Each truck carries a different kind of load. One is a limb truck that carries grass, leaves and tree limbs only. The other truck carries mixed loads. 

“It’s when a limb load has anything else in it,” Lauderdale said.

The local landfill will not take household trash. This is anything that has come into contact with food. 

“Home cleanups are the responsibility of the homeowner to dispose of,” Lauderdale said. “If a contractor does any kind of work on a property or around a home, they are responsible for their debris disposal. This means that contractors who cut your grass or cut your trees must take their clippings with them. With any kind of home construction debris, it’s up to the contractor to dispose of it. The city cannot take any kind of appliance. The landfill will not take them. We will not pick up under a power line, within 10 feet of an automobile, or within three feet of a fence.”