Local News

MUD survey push back could cost taxpayers money

The Metro Utilities Department (MUD) needs the community’s help. In order to qualify for a Community Block Development Grant, 24 percent of its customers must respond to a simple income survey. Without those survey responses, the burden of a mandatory MUD water pressure project will likely fall squarely on taxpayers. (File Photo)

LOCAL NEWS — Federal dollars – especially free don’t-need-to-be-paid-back dollars like those offered through Community Block Development Grants (CBDG) – often come with strings and documentation requirements. It’s just the way government funding get accomplished.

Each February, counties, cities, and urban communities across the United States apply for CBDG money in the hopes of making community improvements without using taxpayer money. Metro Utilities Department recently started the CBDG application process in order to address water press issues in the southern part of the county. In order to qualify for the grant, MUD must successfully survey a percentage of its Moore County water customers and that’s not sitting well with some locals, who showed up at Monday night’s Metro Council meeting to voice their objections about the “invasion of their privacy.”

As previously reported, the CBDG officials can not pull the required information from the most recent Moore County Census data. Instead, MUD must independently gather survey information in order to show the need in Moore County. Thanks in part to the number of local high paying jobs provided by the distillery and others, tiny Moore County ranks seventh among Tennessee’s 95 counties in per capita income. This often disqualifies us from needs-based grants, which results in higher water and sewer prices than surrounding counties.

At Monday’s meeting, MUD officials told the Metro Council that state law requires the local utility to deliver a minimum pressure of 20 pounds per square inch (psi) to local taps.

“We are dangerously close to hitting under that requirement in some parts of the county,” MUD officials said. “If it’s not corrected, no only would we risk breaking state law but it would also limit growth in the county and the approval of new water taps.”

Metro Council member Bradley Dye reminded his fellow council members as well as members of the audience that whether Metro Moore County gets approved for the CBDG funding or not, “these are issues this county is going to have to fix, so we need to try and get all the help we can get.”

Metro Council member Tommy Brown added that the water pressure project is one that will help everyone in the county.

Bottom line, Metro Moore County needs a 24 percent survey response rate to move forward with the CBDG application process. If MUD fails to receive that percentage of completed surveys then it’s likely that $630,000 that would have been funded by the federal government will fall on local taxpayer shoulders.

The survey includes 13 simple questions like name, address, details of the household make up, and total annual income as well as a signature and contact phone number. All information collected will remain confidential and will only be used for the grant application process. MUD customers may return the survey with their January payment or drop it off separately at the MUD offices drop box or Metro Mayor Bonnie Lewis’s office located inside the Moore County Courthouse. All completed surveys are kept under lock and key inside a safe at the MUD offices. Mayor Lewis also says the the survey result will not be tabulated locally but at the South Central Tennessee Development District offices.

For more information about the survey, contact the MUD offices at 931-759-4297 or the Metro Mayor’s office at 931-759-7076. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg, Tennessee. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

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