Cumberland to move forward with water interconnect

By: Kendall Downing Email
By: Kendall Downing Email

Officials in the Tri-Cities of Harlan County must decide whether to move forward with the proposed Tri-City Utility Authority by the end of June.

The authority would connect the water systems of Cumberland, Benham, and Lynch.

The Cumberland City Council's choice has been dealt with before.

"Enter into an agreement with three other cities," said Carl Hatfield, Cumberland Mayor.

Ever since the system was proposed, some city leaders have taken issue with it.

"We weren't getting what I would consider to be accurate and consistent information. We were getting different views from different people," said Hatfield.

"We were never told before that we could get out of it," said Charles Raleigh, Cumberland City Council Member.

In late 2010, the mayors of each of the three cities came together and signed the official agreement.

Earlier this year, the council voted to get out of the utility authority. Then, they held what some called an illegal meeting and voted to get back in.

Weeks ago the council voted to get back out of the utility authority, but Tuesday night they voted to opt back in.

To get the more than $1.8 million in grant money, the cities must be part of an official utility authority.

Some Cumberland City Council members changed their votes after they learned the city could bow out of the authority after getting the money.

"It's on board. It's on go right now," said Hatfield.

"Nobody has any money to keep the systems the way they should. You see it every day. People can't pay their debts. Cumberland is no different. Benham is no different. Lynch is no different," said Carolyn Elliot, Cumberland City Council member.

For now, all three cities are back on board.

"I hope this is the end of it," said Raleigh.

This issue can move to Frankfort.

Harlan County Judge-Executive Joe Grieshop tells us he hopes all three cities will remain in the utility authority from now on.

If the cities are not ready to move forward by June 30th, they lose the money.

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