Cumberland council could reconsider water interconnect

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

The plan to connect the water systems of the Tri-Cities in Harlan County is once again on hold. The Cumberland City Council voted this week to opt out of the plan.

Now, we've learned the council will likely be asked to reconsider.

In a 4-3 vote, the Cumberland City Council said the Tri-City Utility Authority was a no-go.

"We came to that decision because we have nothing in writing that protects the citizens of Cumberland or the city of Cumberland," said Charles Raleigh, council member.

Council member Charles Raleigh said there are just too many uncertainties.

"We're walking into a situation where we have no control," said Raleigh.

He said taking the almost one million dollar grant without anything in writing could cause more harm than good.

"We let go of our water and sewer revenue and get stuck with millions in debts that we cannot pay," said Raleigh.

"They qualified for that. That's why the money has to be spent to merge their services," said Joe Grieshop, Harlan County Judge-Executive.

Grieshop said this option makes the most sense for the Tri-Cities. The three cities already share police patrols. Grieshop agrees the details of the plan need to be clarified.

"I think there's some answers here that should have been laid out. Number one is when the system is taken over, the debt should be taken over," said Grieshop.

He said this could be the only option for improvements in the Tri-Cities.

"If the city turns this down, then I would be hard pressed as Judge-Executive to help them with other monies to replace that," said Grieshop.

Grieshop will address the council in a special called meeting Monday night at 6:30 p.m.

"Me, myself, if they would meet those demands, then I would be on board with the water project," said Raleigh.

At that time the council could vote again on the project.

We spoke with Cumberland Mayor Carl Hatfield over the phone this afternoon. He was out of town and could not be interviewed Friday.

Hatfield said there are positives and negatives to both outcomes, and he does not have an opinion. He said he will support whatever the council decides.

We also spoke with other council members today via Facebook and Twitter. They all agree the system would benefit the Tri-Cities, but it appears the differences come down to how the plan would be worked out.

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