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Only one citizen spoke during the public comment meeting on the city of Taylorsville’s proposed budget June 3 where several commissioners and City Attorney Dudley Dale chastised the citizen for getting several facts wrong with respect to the city.
The Taylorsville City Commission called a special meeting on June 3 for the purpose of obtaining written and oral comments of citizens regarding the proposed annual budget and the use of Municipal Road Aid as contained in the budget.
The only citizen present to speak was Evelyn McKemie who has in the past brought up a number of issues with the city’s finances.
McKemie said that she was protesting the budget as she had requested records for the proposed budget and was denied access to those records. McKemie said that the budget had been prepared in the same manner as the previous budget, which received a qualified opinion from the city’s previous auditor Peercy & Gray, PSC. McKemie objected to the payment of the mayor and commissioner’s salary and benefits from water department funds. McKemie said that the mayor and commissioners do not perform a majority of their work with respect to the water department. McKemie also objected to the city budgeting $10,000 in legal expenses for public records requests. McKemie requested that the city perform a water rate study to determine what the water rates should be for city and county water customers.
Mayor Don Pay made the point that the commission has not raised water rates in two years.
Commissioner Ellen Redmon said that she has been researching rates from about 15 cities and that the cheapest rate she has seen is $19,000 for the study, McKemie is requesting. According to Redmon, the studies have resulted in over half of the cities raising their respective water rates.
“I am looking at all these other cities and I am saying wow, they are paying almost double what we are paying here in our community and some of them even have less people,” Redmon said.
Dale brought up that the city raised water rates 3.5% in 2012 when the city of Louisville raised its rates for water to the city of Taylorsville by 6.5%. Dale said that McKemie should address her complaint to Louisville. Dale pointed out that many cities have an immediate pass-through including Mt. Washington. Dale also said that when the city has done any changes to the water system a water study is done.
Dale then chastised McKemie,
“Ma’am, you need to get your facts straight,” he said. “You have this tendency to come in and lob things out without really stating what the facts are or looking at the facts.”
Dale said that doing a study to tell the city something it already knows is illogical.
Dale added that an ordinance was passed, which allows the city to consider water rate increases when the Louisville water system raises its rates.
Dale also chastised McKemie’s reliance on the Peercy & Gray audit. Dale said that the audit was clean other than a recommendation made by the auditors to shift funds.
Pay added that the city has tried to focus on cutting costs without raising rates to customers over the last couple of years.
Commissioner Jack Proctor was more direct:
“I am tired of wasting time, going over and over and over this same subject and giving reasons for what we do,” Proctor said.
Proctor said he was against not passing through the rate increases and that failure to pass through the increases was actually costing the city significant sums of money.