Martin County Water Gets Rate Increase, Ordered To Obtain Outside Management

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) – The Kentucky Public Service Commission has granted Martin County Water District a permanent rate increase but also ordered the embattled utility company to contract with an outside party to manage the troubled utility.
The PSC in March granted Martin County Water an emergency rate increase that brought the average bill to $51.07, an increase of $11.17, from the previous $39.90 for a customer using 4,000 gallons per month.
Today’s order also authorizes a separate temporary monthly surcharge of $3.16 per month that would take effect only if Martin County Water obtains outside management and submits and receives PSC approval for a plan to repair its crumbling water system.
With both surcharges in place, Martin County Water residential customers would see a total increase since March of $17.53 per month, or about 44 percent.
“Martin District’s current commissioners will either comply with the requirements of the rate increase and will proceed with contracted management or the (PSC) will be forced to pursue even more extraordinary means through appointment of a receiver who can implement the changes needed to provide safe, clean and reliable water service.” The PSC left in place the stringent financial controls and reporting mandates it imposed on Martin County Water when it granted the emergency rate increase in March, including a requirement that Martin County Water receive prior PSC approval for all disbursements of funds collected through the debt service surcharge.
Those provisions, all with a Jan. 30, 2019 deadline, include: Issuing a request for proposals (RFP) to qualified management entities, including seven identified by the PSC.
Had Martin County Water implemented the PSC recommendations and increased rates on an incremental and regular basis, its customers “could today be the beneficiaries of a clean reliable source of potable water” through new infrastructure at a cost likely to be much lower than what it will take to repair the current system, Schmitt said.
“The residents of Martin County are, unfortunately, the captive customers of what most certainly has been, over the last two decades, the most poorly operated water district in the state of Kentucky,” Schmitt wrote in his concurrence.
It is also a party to the investigation case.
The investigation case is 2016-00142.

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