BROOKSVILLE — As a way to reach some sort of compromise, the Bracken County Fiscal Court conducted a first reading to amend an ordinance related to the Augusta Regional Sewer Authority project.
Bracken County Fiscal Court met Wednesday morning to discuss its decision to amend the ordinance. According to Judge-Executive Earl Bush, the amendment was prompted in part, by a petition signed by several residents along Kentucky 19, where a new sewer line will be built, and most residents mandated to hook up to once the line is constructed.
Bush began by explaining to the crowd of concerned citizens on hand for the meeting, concerns about the aging plants in Brooksville and Augusta, and the necessity of constructing a new sewer plant, and the subsequent sewer line.
“One of the first things I was introduced to when I took office seven and a half years ago was a 201 study from the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority,” Bush said. “The study referenced two sewer plants approaching the end of their useful lives, both of them not in good condition; they were old designs and they don’t meet present standards. It also talked about how they need to be replaced.”
The ordinance, originally passed by the fiscal court in 2005 and amended in 2017, requires all customers to be hooked to a sanitary sewer system, when available, if the resident is within 300 feet of the line.
The ordinance, however, does have exemptions, which include residences not within 300 feet of the line and residences which currently have a sewage system on site that is considered feasible. If the sewage system is considered feasible, the resident will have to provide documentation that it was installed within the previous 10 years and provide a notarized statement from the health department regarding functionality.
With this new amendment, residents may have their sewage system inspected by the health department. Should their system be found in proper order, the resident will receive a 10-year permit which will allow them to not hook up to the sewer line.
The 10-year inspection process would continue until the resident’s sewer system was no longer operable, in which case the connection to the line would be required.
After proposing the possible amendment to the attendees, the court invited residents to ask questions. Several individuals were civil in their questioning, though the main point of contention was the mandate requiring residents to hook on to the sewer line.
“There’s 100 of us, and we represent 65 properties along this route, and we understand that this project is needed,” said Jerry Thornsberry, “but the mandated portion of it is where we have exception.”
Rita Thomas, who also lives along Kentucky 19 said she has had apprehensions about the sewer project for some time.
“I’ve had mixed feelings about this project ever since the very beginning,” she said. “I was hoping to come to the ARSA open meeting and get some answers to some questions and we left with more questions than we had answers.”
Thomas said she was also concerned for residents who may not afford connecting to the sewer line.
“For those folks who cannot afford to pay $1,000 or $3,000 to tie into this system; yeah, they can sign that paper and they don’t have to pay for that pump, but if they’ve got a circuitous route to go around a home, or a really horrible, rocky terrain, it’s going to be exorbitant for those folks who maybe live on Social Security,” Thomas said.
After listening to the numerous comments and criticisms of the community, Magistrate Carl Allen Jr. suggested to Bush to extend the five year permit from the current amendment to 10 years, which he agreed. The court approved the first reading of the ARSA sewer project ordinance, with several residents noting it to be a more favorable compromise to the previous ordinance.
In other business, the court:
— Approved the reappointment of Tim Sweeney to the Water District Board.
—Selected the H.G. Mays Corporation bid of around $98,000 for paving a county road. The project will be funded by a grant received from the state, according to Bush.