Wartrace water customers face higher rates as the community tries to get back "in the black" financially.
A large number of residents attended Monday's meeting of the Wartrace water board to hear about the new rates, which Mayor Ron Stacy said are necessary to keep the town's water department solvent.
The T-G received a complaint about the new rate from a rural customer, and phone inquiries were being made about the price hike at Wartrace town hall on Tuesday.
Wartrace water customers inside town limits will now pay a base fee of $36.70, with the first 500 gallons of water costing $13.05, then costing $3.70 per thousand gallons after that.
For Wartrace municipal sewer customers, a base fee of $26 has been imposed, with the first 500 gallons of water costing $7.50, and $5 per 1,000 gallons following that.
But the town's rural customers are seeing the greatest price hike.
Everyone hooked up to the system outside Wartrace will pay a base fee of $50.20, even if they use no water, with $20.55 charged for the first 500 gallons and $3.70 per 1,000 gallons after that.
Water taps fees are to be $1,700 for a three-quarter-inch line, $2,700 for a one-inch line and $3,500 for a two-inch line, although any tap over one inch will have to be at the discretion of the water department.
Stacy told the T-G that the water department "had been in the red for the last three years" and that the town "needed to be in the black" this year due to a state mandate.
He explained that if the town had not made the decision to hike the rates, the state would have done it for them.
"There's two ways to be self-sufficient, and that's to cut costs or raise rates," Stacy said, noting that the town had already put one employee on part-time status to save money, plus other cuts, but the rates had to be raised as well to break even.
Wartrace is also looking for help via applying for Community Development Block Grants with the state to help with water quality, which has been a huge issue for the town. The grant would be to replace 1930s-vintage lines inside Wartrace.
Wartrace's water is provided by Tullahoma, and Stacy explained that city's utility uses more aggressive chemicals than before, when the community got their water from Cascade Springs, which has resulted in the iron lines being "eaten at."
Lines on Spring and High streets in Wartrace have already been replaced due to water quality, and workers are also trying to cut down on leaks in the system, which also costs the community.
When Stacy took office, there was around a 60 percent water loss reported, and that number is coming down to the level of 35 percent, which is the highest rate allowed by the state.
Wartrace's next board meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 19.