Bell Buckle defers water taps due to study

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Bell Buckle imposed a 120 day moratorium on water taps for persons outside that town's city limits so that a water analysis can be completed.

Last month, two requests for water taps were deferred for so the board could look at capacity and supply with the town's water system. Water manager Ronnie Lokey had said there had been a big demand on the system this summer and some residents had complained about low pressure.

Members of the council met with Wartrace officials about water supply issues earlier in the month, who said they felt comfortable with the capacity they are providing for Wartrace, but they want to look into the future and take a long term view about supply issues

The resolution calls for a "comprehensive, and reliable integrated data-based description of the finances, capacity, operations and infrastructure of the Bell Buckle water system."

During the 120 day analysis period, the town will not accept, approve or consider any new applications for water taps outside the city limits, but the moratorium will not apply to taps requests from inside the city.

While 182 customers are served inside the city limits, over 700 outside the small town also draw water from Bell Buckle's system, which has operated at a financial loss for the past few years. Last year, the system had an net operating loss of $56,000.

The resolution was introduced by Aldermen James Anderson and originally was for 180 days, but several alterations were made. Mayor Dennis Webb had concerns due to legal opinions from the state's Municipal Technical Advisory Service [MTAS] which called into doubt whether a moratorium could be held valid unless it was based upon a lack of ability to provide adequate service.

The council voted previously not to extend water lines outside the town corporate limits and many in Bell Buckle who are opposed to growth in the area have expressed a desire to limit providing taps.

Webb said he is for small limited growth in the community but as mayor, he has to make sure that the city doesn't find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

Voting for the resolution were Anderson, Frank Reagor and Mark Felices, with Webb and Jenny Hunt voting against the move. Three tap requests for outside the town were approved before the resolution was voted on.

The council also voted to raise the tap fee for those outside the city limits to $1,500. Most of the repair expenses for the Bell Buckle water system have been outside the town. The council voted to take bids for work on the Webb School water tank as well

Also discussed was the hiring of a town attorney since Bell Buckle has been without legal council for the past several months.

Those under consideration are Murfreesboro attorney John T. Blankenship, Evan Cope, a graduate of Webb School and currently city attorney of LaVergne, and Shelbyville attorney Todd Bobo, who assists John T. Bobo with representation of Bedford County. Members of the council will examine the issue further next month.

Also passed was the first reading of the town's official zoning map and a request from Rockin Diamond K Ranch to rent the second floor above city hall was indefinitely deferred.