• 54°

Council to vote on water rate increase

Like Crenshaw County and most of central Alabama, Luverne escaped the wrath of Hurricane Dennis this weekend. Still, Mayor Joe Rex Sport told council members on Monday night that city crews were on standby for any possible power outages or downed trees blocking streets.

Dennis, a Category 2 hurricane, came ashore at approximately 2:25 p.m. on Sunday along the Alabama-Florida gulf coast and tracked northwest into parts of southwestern Alabama. Crenshaw County and Luverne, hit hard by Hurricane Ivan last September, prepared for a similar - if not, more severe - strike from Dennis, which had reached wind speeds of up to 145 mph before weakening early Sunday afternoon.

"All our crews were here," said Sport. "We started to send people home around 6:30 p.m. Then finally we sent everyone home at around 10 p.m. when it looked like we'd seen the worst of it."

Sport said there was one tree that fell knocking out power. City Engineer Morris Tate said the tree actually fell across a power line, but did not break the line. Crews had power restored soon after, though, he said.

Tate said since Pres. George Bush signed a preliminary disaster declaration because of Dennis for 44 counties in Alabama, including Crenshaw, the city could recover 100 percent of costs associated with the preparation such as overtime hours for city employees and emergency services.

Sport also reported the Water and Sewer Board had met an adopted a water rate increase of $2 for the city, which will be voted on by the council at the next meeting on July 25.

The current rate is $6 for all residential, commercial and industrial for 3,000 gallons. An additional fee of $1.50 for residential, $1.60 for commercial and $1.75 for industrial will be charged for every 1,000 gallons used over 2,000. There will also be a $50 deposit required to turn on water service.

The projected increase will generate an additional $40,364 from residential, $5,564 from commercial, and $19,107 from industrial.

Sport said the increase is necessary to maintain current operations and offset expenditures.

"Even with the increase, we'll still be a lot cheaper than other cities around us of similar size," said Sport.

The city will also hold a public hearing concerning a restaurant retail liquor license applied for by Manarcas Mexican Store, Inc. on July 25 at city hall at 4 p.m.

The Manarcas restaurant would be located on 1224 South Forest Ave.