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Linden Utility Board approves budget, discusses maintenance project

The 2019-20 budget for the Linden Utility Board was set at 1.7 million during their Sept. 17 meeting. The $1,764,850 in expected revenue outpaces the 1,364,850 in project costs, leaving $400,000 in restricted funds.

Utility Clerk Ashley Drake said the revenue increased from last year by $41,900 based on slight water and sewer cost increases that are set each year by the consumer price index. Water rates increased by 38 cents for the first 1,000 gallons used and six cents for every 1,000 gallons used after that. Sewer rates increased by 30 cents for the first 1,000 gallons used and five cents for every 1,000 gallons used after that.

Public Works Director Terry Tyson also brought forward issues regarding the city’s booster station near Uniontown to the utility board. He said multiple valves need to be replaced.

Tyson stressed that it was a problem that could not wait, as it is the city’s backup water supply and it being nonoperational means that if the well the city currently uses for water goes out, Linden will be without water.

“We’re going to have to spend some money now. We can’t wait,” Tyson said.

After researching costs to fix the booster station, he told the council an approximate budget of $30,000 would be needed for the project.

He plans to replace two control valves, which together will cost $20,000. The remaining $10,000 will go towards replacing other, smaller valves on the station as well as utilizing a hydro services crew that will take the station apart and provide an assessment for what, if anything else, needs to be replaced and how much longer the city will be able to use the booster station until it needs to be replaced.

Tyson said that although the city will be investing $30,000 in the current repairs, it’s the first time the booster station has required such measures.

“The station has been running over 30 years, and you’ve not spent a dime on it,” he told the board.

Drake said there may be enough funds in the Escrow Account to, if applicable, cover at least a portion of the $30,000. The Escrow Account is built by taking a percentage of the city’s water used each month, applying a dollar amount to that percentage and adding it to the fund.

Tyson also told the board that an altitude valve on County Road 44 has not been rebuilt in 30 years and will likely soon need to be replaced. He suggested that it be kept in mind when choosing upcoming projects.

He also recommended that the utility board not add fluoride to the water, as the cost outweighs any benefits, even with the possibility of a grant. The board followed Tyson’s recommendation.

The Utility Department and Street Department will split the $11,600 repair costs as both departments use it. Tyson is also looking into adding a Murphy Switch that will automatically turn the tractor off if the oil pressure becomes too low or the temperature too high.

The Linden Utility Board meets at city hall every third Tuesday at 5 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

(This article originally appeared in the Wednesday, September 25 issue of the Demopolis Times.)