About a dozen homeowners of the new Baxter Crossroads subdivision spoke at the city’s Board meeting with concerns about high water bills.
The homeowners lacking irrigation systems have used hoses to water their lawns. As it turns out, the amount of water used turns that into a sewer rate issue. Councilman Dustin Stanton:
“What you would do if you don’t have an irrigation system is you set an irrigation meter and put an outside faucet behind that meter,” Stanton said. “And when you get ready to water your grass, you hook your hose to that hose, to that faucet.”
Stanton said residents can purchase the separate irrigation meter from the City for $1,500. The city will then come and install the box, the meter, and the resident will be responsible for tying into that meter.
Councilmen assured residents the rates were not just in the subdivision but across the city of Baxter. City Recorder Sharon Carlile said one of the biggest issues is that Baxter buys water from the City of Cookeville and is beholden to those prices.
“The City of Cookeville charges us, they’re raising us for the next two years,” Carlile said. “So we look at it. With growth, you can look at your rates more. So as we grow, there’ll be more hope that we can bring that down.”
City Attorney Shawn Fry said the sewer treatment plant project is set to cost the city over $20 million. That project with the cost of chemicals and necessities to run the water treatment plant are the reason the sewer rates are so high.
“And I’m sorry, I apologize, and they all apologize as well,” Fry said. “As far as watering your yard, we’re trying to offer you the help. You can buy a meter that will separately take care of it and you will not pay any sewage fees for water your yard. Now if you’re going to put the hose to your house, I’m very sorry but there’s no way the city can meter that.”
Mayor John Martin said the city wants to work with residents to make sure they’re on the same page and understand the situation.