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There’s rising water (rates) in Norris

Water bills likely to go up by about 22-percent

  • Norris City Manager Scott Hackler explains to the City Council on Monday night the budget items that the Norris Water Commission needs to increase for the rest of the current fiscal year, which will force an increase in water rates. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Eighth Judicial District prosecuting attorney Brandon Pelizzari of Clinton addresses the Norris City Council on Monday night to ask the council to pass a resolution recognizing Red Ribbon Week Oct. 23-31 to help promote drug-free lifestyles and drug-abuse prevention. - G. Chambers Williams III

Norris water customers most likely will see their monthly bills increase about 22-percent soon as the city deals with a financial shortfall of about $95,000 in the current fiscal year, according to information given to the City Council on Monday night.

That would raise the typical monthly water bill of nearly $20 to just over $24, according to city estimates.

City Manager Scott Hackler showed council members a chart outlining the Water Commission’s needs for additional revenue, which include $56,331 for an additional full-time staff member, $20,000 for a contingency fund, $11,000 for part-time workers and $8,000 for handling of chemical hazards in the water plant.

These proposed expenditures were determined during the first of three workshops the Water Commission planned to deal with financial issues. In the next workshop, set for Nov. 4, the commission is expected to create a proposed ordinance to present to the council to raise the water rates, City Manager Scott Hackler said.

The council is expected to consider the ordinance on first reading during its November meeting, which has been moved to 5:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15. The council changed the date for the November meeting because it would have been on Veterans Day, Monday, Nov. 11.

Norris has 775 water customers, and City Recorder Janet Parks said the additional revenue needed for the rest of the fiscal year would require the 22 percent increase based on that number. She said the typical water bill is $19.37.

The number of water customers and the water use per customer has remained mostly steady for several years, city officials said, in part because there has not been much new construction in Norris, and customers have gotten better about conserving water.

With no growth in customers or average water use expected, the only way to increase revenue is by raising water rates, Hackler said.

In other council business Monday night:

• Hackler said the Tennessee Department of Transportation is about ready to begin moving toward work on the extension of Sawmill Road from its current dead end to a new outlet on Norris Freeway/U.S. 441 near the back side of the Covenant Life Church property. The city has sent TDOT a check for $70,000 to pay for right-of-way acquisition, of which $35,000 came from Anderson County, he said.

Construction could begin within the next few months, Hackler said. The extension will create a new entrance and exit for the city.

For now, the only ways into and out of the main portion of Norris are on East Norris Road to Andersonville Highway, West Norris Road to Norris Freeway, Reservoir Road to Red Hill and Lambdin roads, and Lower Clear Creek Road (a dirt road) to Norris Freeway.

• After a presentation by Assistant Eighth District Attorney General Brandon Pelizzari, the council approved a resolution recognizing Oct. 23-31 as national Red Ribbon Week, an annual event created in 1988 by Congress to promote drug-free lifestyles and drug-abuse prevention.

The weeklong event urges people to wear red ribbons to make a “visible statement” of a commitment to drug- and substance-abuse prevention in their communities.

Pelizzari told the council members that for prosecuting attorneys, drug and substance abuse is the “most-prevalent problem we face.”

“The red ribbons are a symbol of a drug-free life,” he said, presenting ribbons to each of the council members.

Vice Mayor Larry Beeman asked Pelizzari, “Are we making any headway on this?”

Pelizzari replied, “It’s hard to say. I’m in the trenches every day. It’s a two-pronged approach – helping those who are afflicted, and working on prevention.”

• The council set a meeting of the Norris Beer Board – which comprises the members of the City Council – for 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 15, to consider the status of the beer permit for Archer’s Market. The market was caught in a state sting operation in April in which wine was allegedly sold to a minor, Hackler said.