Gap Sewer Rates Up
Cumberland Gap residents will likely see no increase in their property taxes if the first reading of Ordinance 5-2020 is any indication. The document will go to public hearing, scheduled for later this month, prior to its second reading during the council meeting in July.
However, the monthly sewer rates will increase by $7 across the board.
The city council, who met again this month via Zoom, approved the increase with what was expressed by the aldermen as reluctance. The historic town has suffered greatly, losing a substantial chunk of tourism dollars that might otherwise have gone into squaring up the new fiscal year budget.
Restaurants in the downtown district have struggled to make ends meet with curbside service. The hotels and variety stores have all but gone ‘belly-up’ during the first few months of the tourist season.
Plans to recoup losses are in the works, however. Several festivals and special events are in the planning stages for later in the season.
The town has struggled with its sewer system for quite a while. Work continues to be done to repair, replace and generally alleviate problems. Meanwhile, the council has been sweating the numbers to find a solution to level the budgetary deficit.
Town recorder Linda Moyers said during the meeting last month that the sewer system continues to miss the mark by about $25,000 in order to balance that particular line item of the budget.
“We’re going to have to do something because we’re already in the hole for two fiscal years. We can’t make it three,” said Moyers.
Apparently, plans to delve deeper into this issue during last month’s work session was met with no easy answer.
The increase takes effect with the June bills. Residents and small business owners inside the town limits will now pay $40 for up to 3,000 gallons of usage.
Large commercial business owners will be billed a base amount of $80 per month.
Those living and/or owning a small commercial business outside the city limits will pay $50.75 for the base 3,000 gallons of usage while large commercial business owners will fork over a minimum of $180 per month.
All costs for usages above the 3,000 gallons per month will remain the same as previously calculated.
In other action, the town just may have a solution to chronic overflowing creeks and streams – in particular, the stream that runs nearby the hotel located in the downtown district.
Mayor Neal Pucciarelli said he had been in contact with the engineering firm Vaughn & Melton. One of the engineers had taken a look at the situation.
“He found an inexpensive way for us to address the culvert,” said Pucciarelli. “It involves taking that old corrugated (culvert) out and replacing it with smoother tile and picking up some of the rocks that’s been blocking the water.
“We do have applications for permits to do some general maintenance to our creeks. We’re in the process of getting that done.”
Once these TDEC (Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation) applications have been approved, the town will begin maintenance of all problem creeks including the one that runs alongside the Gap Coffee House.