Franklin utility customers to see substantial rate increase - WSMV Channel 4

Update

Franklin utility customers to see substantial rate increase

Posted: Updated: June 7, 2012 06:34 PM
FRANKLIN, TN (WSMV) -

Utility customers in Franklin can expect their water and sewer rates to rise 34 percent after a compromise between the utility company and the state's consumer advocate.

The increase comes after Franklin residents stood united against a proposed 72-percent rate hike from the company.

Talk of that increase led to a battle cry in Franklin, where the residents said they're being gouged and have nowhere to turn.

Cottonwood is a big, proud subdivision. For instance, during the May 2010 flood, the homeowners association spent $100,000 rescuing one another.

"All furniture was moved upstairs in all 484 homes. It was an amazing effort," said resident Mike Webb.

Now, those homeowners became united again. This time they were fighting their sewer utility, Berry's Chapel. Originally seeking a 72-percent rate increase, Berry's Chapel wants the added revenue to help it recover $190,000 in flood damage.

The residents said they were forced on the brink.

"When the company filed its case it said, 'if you don't give us the money we want, we're going to jump and you are going to be left cleaning up the mess,'" said consumer advocate C. Scott Jackson.

Jackson, who works as the state attorney general's consumer advocate, said the company needed to prove that it needs this kind of money, but so far hadn't shown the evidence.

The state said Berry's Chapel suffers from booking, accountability and oversight issues.

The lawyer for primary Berry's Chapel owners, John and Tyler Ring, said they are trying to make it work.

"We are trying to address those, and I think we are making good progress," said attorney Henry Walker.

But many of the 800 affected customers said that is nonsense and the company is out of control.

The Tennessee Regulatory Authority made the decision Friday to compromise on the proposed rate increase - between Berry's Chapel's proposed 72-percent increase and the state consumer advocate's proposed 23-percent increase.

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