County transfers control of Ball Creek sewer plant

Cris Ritchie — Editor

October 31, 2013

HAZARD – The Perry County Fiscal Court on Thursday officially transferred ownership of an out-of-county sewer plant that will eventually serve Perry County residents.

The fiscal court was informed last month that the Troublesome Creek Environmental Authority, which built the plant in the Ball Creek community of Knott County to serve residents along the Troublesome Creek watershed, was getting out of the business of operating sewage plants and wanted to transfer ownership to the Knott County Water & Sewer District. The plant was opened a few years ago but failed to gain an adequate customer base, resulting in the authority’s move to relinquish ownership.

Perry County Judge-Executive Denny Ray Noble, who sits on the authority’s board of directors along with officials from Knott and Breathitt counties, declined to approve the transfer without assurances that rates charged to Perry County’s residents would be even with those in Knott County.

“We’re not going to just give something away that we built to help our people,” Noble said in September. “There has to be some kind of agreement to where the people of Perry County will not be put in jeopardy to pay a higher sewer bill, because we’re not going to have any control over it.”

Noble acknowledged during a special called meeting on Thursday that any rates would have to be approved by the Public Service Commission, and the sewer district in Knott County could not charge higher rates in other counties. He said a resolution and accompanying memorandum of understanding approved by the fiscal court affirms that stance.

According to the memorandum, the Perry County Fiscal Court, as co-creator of the environmental authority, is seeking to ensure that residents living along the Troublesome Creek watershed will have access to sewer services at a fair rate. The Ball Creek plant will provide those services, as Noble noted plans are in place to install lines that will carry sewage to the plant from Perry County.

Ensuring services to that part of the county now is an important issue, Noble said, because the county likley will not be able to construct a new treatment plant specifically for that section of the county due to lack of funds.

“We want sewer and water for our people,” Noble said. “With the way money is today … we won’t able to do another sewer plant in Perry County, not down on that end.”