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Kenton Co. Rejects SD1 Proposed Rate Increase & Looks to Fund 911 Dispatch

The Kenton County Fiscal Court unanimously rejected the 9% rate increase proposed by Sanitation District 1 on Tuesday night.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports:

The average monthly residential sewer charge for SD1 customers in April was $40.14. A 9 percent rate hike would increase that to about $43.75.

At a recent SD1 open house, Kenton County Commissioner Jon Draud said he learned the average monthly sewer bill could climb as high as $335 a month by 2025 under one scenario proposed to comply with a federal consent decree.

“To go to $335 (a month) or anywhere close to that is just not sustainable,” Draud said. “The sooner we get before a federal judge (to challenge the consent decree), the better.”

Arlinghaus’s resolution proposing a 3 percent increase for the 2014 fiscal year died for lack of a second Tuesday. To vote against the proposed 9 percent rate increase without offering an alternative would “be a slap against the federal judges,” he said, and would “send the wrong message.”

“We want to be respectful of the federal system,” Arlinghaus said. “But by the same token, let’s be fair to the residents.”

The proposed rate increase was the topic of occasionally heated conversation at the past two Covington City Commission meetings. In early May, City Commissioner Michelle Williams proposed a surprise resolution opposing SD1's suggested rate increases, sparking a contentious debate at City Hall. The resolution passed by a vote of 3-2. In the days that followed, City Manager Larry Klein said that the resolution was "not good for the city" and was "poorly written". David Rager, executive director of SD1, came to City Hall last week to explain why he saw a need for the rate increase, arguing that federal mandates are mostly responsible.

Meanwhile...

The Kenton Co. Fiscal Court will again consider the option of funding its consolidated 911 emergency dispatch center with a monthly fee on electric meters. More from The Cincinnati Enquirer:

Tuesday night, Kenton Fiscal Court had first reading of an ordinance to fund its consolidated dispatch service with a fee on electric meters. No vote is required until the second and final reading of the ordinance at Fiscal Court’s June 11 meeting in Independence.

Arlinghaus said he still believes that a fee on electric meters is the fairest way to pay for 911 service because most of the calls for police, fire and life squads are generated by apartment dwellers who currently aren’t paying for 911 service.

Any new funding option approved would take effect Jan. 1. It would replace the annual $85 per parcel fee that’s been unpopular with hundreds of property owners.

Arlinghaus said the fee on electric meters would be “no more than $6 a month.”

Two previous attempts at funding the consolidated dispatch center through electric meter bills resulted in split votes of 2-2 at the Fiscal Court.

The City of Covington ended the run of its own dispatch center last September and the work is now handled by Kenton County. In January, the County broke ground on an expanded dispatch center.

Photo: Map of Kenton Co. via the University of Kentucky