Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

September 24, 2010

Sewer board president answers frequently asked questions

By Herb Pallatt
President, Tansi Sewer Utility District

— When will the sewer be available in my area?

Service expansion depends on funding and population density. The priority is to install around the two largest lakes first. It is likely to take a couple of years to get to outer properties. We will keep you posted.

What will it cost me to have a sewer connection?

The cost for a sewer connection is $5950, complete. That includes the new account set-up fee, the availability fee, grinder pump and installation, piping and electrical to the structure. If your house sits beyond 100 feet from the road, there will be an additional cost per foot of pipe. Also, the homeowner is responsible for any electrical work "inside" the structure. Electric service from the structure to the pump alarm system is included in the hookup cost.

Will I have to pay the sewer installation fee in a lump sum?

There will be options to spread the initial costs over time. The commission is considering long-term payment options at this time. Of course, customers are free to obtain their own financing.

What is an ‘availability fee’ and will I have to pay that as well? Has the availability fee been tested in court?

The availability fee is the fee charged for the sewer main installed in front of or within 500 feet of the structure or home. It is included in the $5950 above. An “availability fee” is included in the Tennessee Law under which the Tansi Sewer District (TSUD) was created. (#7-35-201 latest revision January 2010).

My home is on three lots. Will I have to pay more to have a sewer hook- up?

No. Sewer hookups and availability fees apply only to structures, not lots. If it’s just a vacant lot , there is no cost.

If I don’t want a sewer hook-up or cannot afford it, can I opt out?

Yes, you can opt out of the sewer hook-up. However, under the current rules, the “availability fee” and the monthly fee will apply even if you do not hook up. So you will still pay the $1,500 fee and be required to pay $50 a month minimum or according to your water usage. Failure to pay will result in a lien on your structure.

Apparently the Lake Tansi POA lent money to the sewer district. When will the district pay this money back to the POA? Tell me how much was lent and what is the repayment plan.

The POA secured a $1.2 million bank line of credit for Tansi Waste Management, Inc., the predecessor to the Tansi Sewer Utility District of Cumberland County. No money was borrowed from the POA operating budget. The district assumed this obligation to the POA and repayment will be made from the revenue bonds being issued by the district. The payment plan is a lump sum payment in full, including accrued interest at 6.25 percent.  The anticipated due date is Nov. 1, 2010.

How will my rates be determined?

Our current monthly service rates will be based on your monthly water usage. For residential homes there is a $50 minimum for up to 2,500 gallons per month of water usage. You will be charged $15 per 1,000 gallons over the minimum.

Non-residential buildings will be charged a $70 minimum, for up to 2,500 gallons per month of water usage, plus $22.50 per 1,000 gallons over 2,500.

Monthly water usage will be rounded to the nearest hundred gallons. 

Service calls will be $50/per trip

Late payments after 15 days will be charged 10 percent extra

What is the relationship of the POA with the Tansi Sewer district?

The Tansi POA is a business customer and completely separate from the Tansi Sewer Utility District.

What is the relationship of the Tansi Sewer District with the Tansi water district (South Cumberland Utility District)?

These entities are completely separate utility districts under the auspices of the state government of Tennessee. They operate independently. You will receive separate bills. TSUD reports to the state Utility Management Review Board and undergoes an annual audit by that entity. The annual financial statement will be published similar to that publication you receive from your water district. All statements are independently audited.

To what extent would operating the grinder pump 24 hours a day affect my monthly power bill?

Additional costs to the homeowner are negligible. The pump runs an average of four minutes a day. Total estimated cost, according to Volunteer Energy Cooperative, would be approximately $10.89 a year.

I understand that our new sewer company is operating on borrowed money. I also understand that 80 percent of the residents in our community cannot afford to feed lunch to their children (Brown school statistics).

The poverty statistics from Brown school have no relationship to the financial solvency in the Tansi subdivision. Most of the children who attend Brown School live outside of Tansi.

The average income in Tansi, according to information obtained from USDA, is $37,000, well above the income averages for the families in Brown school district.

It appears that the lake’s environmental impact has a great deal to do with the sewer project. Will lake properties have priority?

As mentioned previously, yes. The next phase of installation focuses on septic systems affecting both large lakes. This phase includes both lake front and non-lake front properties. Both lake front and non-lake front septic systems are currently affecting the conditions in our lakes.

Information regarding pay to the commissioners is circulating throughout the community. Are our commissioners receiving any money?

To clarify, by Tennessee state statute, utility district commissioners may receive up to $300 per attended meeting. At the second meeting of TSUD, the commissioners voted not to receive any compensation.

It is also true that the board of directors of TWMI received no compensation during their three-year service to start the sewer system.