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NEWPORT—Newport Utilities provides water to three neighboring water utilities, charging them a bulk rate each year. NU board members met Tuesday morning and voted to increase that rate by 2% in the new fiscal year.

Webb Creek Utility District, Dandridge Water Management and Sevier County Utility District will now pay $4.31 per thousand gallons used. The prime rate, which is charged when overages occur, will increase by 2.7% over the pervious year up to $5.63 per thousand.

Another item approved by the board was the transfer of funds to finish a project at NU’s wastewater facility.

Chris Calhoun, V/P of Operations and Technology, said NU purchased new nitrification pumps but faced space limitations that led to a delay in the project.

“We have space limitations and things were too close to our electrical panels,” Calhoun said.

“Construction was postponed due to this as well as new electric codes. We also had some personnel turnover that added to the delay. To get the project back on track we need to adjust budget line items to complete the job.”

NU allocated $400,000 in their new budget to replace rotary drums. Calhoun received approval to transfer $200,000 from that line item to complete the pump project. He noted that half of the rotary drums could be replaced with the remaining $200,000.

Calhoun said a new platform will be constructed to house the electrical panels which will provide adequate space for the new pumps. Brockwell Construction has submitted a bid of $130,628 for the needed improvements. NU is still awaiting quotes for other materials to finish the project.

Calhoun provided an update on NU’s broadband subscribers as well. The number of total subscribers now stands at 3,442 after 50 new customers were added over recent weeks.

A new scheduling process has been implemented that has allowed NU crews to be more efficient in terms of installs.

Board members also heard from Joni Daniel, V/P of Finance and Accounting. Daniel said it’s time for the 2020-2021 fiscal year audit. Rodefer Moss & Co, PLLC has been hired to perform the audit and should start in the coming weeks.

“Hopefully things will go smoother, but things will be delayed due to our circumstances,” Daniel said. “If they could finish things by January that would be great.”

The next NU meeting will be held on Tuesday, August 24 at 10:30 a.m.

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