City council to discuss withdrawing water permit

By Julie Fann

The Elizabethton City Council at its monthly meeting Thursday will discuss dissolving an application it submitted last year to the TVA for permission to withdraw approximately 12 million gallons of water daily from the Watauga River.
   A decision to retract the permit would open the door for the Watauga Regional Water Authority (WRWA) to submit its own application.
   The application process includes three parts sent to the TVA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environment and Conservation, respectively.
   After the WRWA submits its application, it will await approval from the TVA.
   Permit approval is contingent upon studies on the impact to local fisheries, environmental influence, archaeological concern, and an analysis to determine need.
   If the application is approved, the WRWA will build a water plant near the Watauga River Industrial Park.
   Approximately $900,000 in federal grant money administered through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been secured to fund the establishment of a regional water source for the city and county.
   The WRWA was formed in August 2001 and is composed of city and county officials, state authorities, and representatives from local utility districts.
   Its goal is to obtain a more reliable source of drinking water for city and county residents due to the negative impact recent climactic events have had on the spring water supply.
   Also at its monthly meeting, council members will hold a second reading and public hearing to approve amendments to the 2001-2002 budget. Amendments include:
   --Balancing total revenue and expenditures at $13,357,994 due to approved grants that added to the bottom line figure of the general fund budget.
   --Closing out the Bicentennial fund with approximately $17,700.
   --Receiving additional revenue and expenses in the Capital Projects fund for FEMA flood mitigation land purchases, totaling $350,600.
   --Acquiring interest earnings totaling $800 to the E. Bolling Trust fund, and additional funds to the East Tennessee Railroad Authority fund, totaling $101,050.
   --Increasing the bottom line of expenditures for the Elizabethton City School Board by $1,300,900 due to a number of changes in Federal Projects and Child Nutrition funds.
   In addition to approving budget changes, council will also hold a second reading and approval of revised city travel regulations. The new regulations simplify record keeping and closely track state travel on major issues such as per diem and mileage reimbursement.
   Council members will also hold a second reading of an ordinance to amend the franchise agreement the city has with United Cities Gas Company to include a five percent franchise fee.
   The city will also approve an $11,087 block grant awarded to the Elizabethton Police Department to address radio communication needs in the Milligan area.
   A first reading of changes to the Sewer Use Ordinance to comply with state and federal requirements will also be held.
   Also on the agenda is a discussion of a public auction for the sale of surplus and confiscated property listed by the city. The city will request quotations from a minimum of three local auction firms.
   Total receipts from the last city auction held on July 28, 2001 totaled $12,446. Funds generated from the sale go toward auction expenses. Balance of proceeds will go to the appropriate city accounts and the state as required, according to city documents.
   Following the meeting, the Elizabethton Beverage Board will convene.