After years of water main breaks and boil water orders, residents along a portion of Symsonia Highway just outside of the Benton city limits will receive a replacement main. But how to fund the entire project is still to be determined.

The waterline will run from Old Symsonia Road by the hospital entrance to the Graves County line, a total of seven miles, and serve 369 customers. The original estimated project amount was $3,502,920, but Mayor Rita Dotson now thinks that may be on the high side. The majority of that cost lies in the engineering fees.

“What we have to figure out, and I have to send this in to Frankfort asap, is how much we want to charge the customers in that water district? How much we want to add on to their bill a month?” said Dotson.

The city applied for an American Rescue Plan Act grant with the impression they would possibly receive up to 25%, but now representatives in Frankfort now say it will be closer to 10%, if any is received at all.

Before a loan with an interest rate of 1.75% can be approved, the council must submit documentation on how the project will be funded. Previous discussions included adding a fixed amount per meter of $10-$20 to the monthly bills in that district. At minimum the loan payment would be around $11,000-$12,000 per month.

“I don’t want to put a huge burden on that district, but I don’t want to put a huge burden on the taxpayers of Benton either,” said Dotson.

Some customers have more than one meter though. Councilman Kevin Farley asked about also increasing the price per 1000 gallons.

“I think we’ve got to address that and generate some more revenue because that’s a pretty sizable payment to be making,” said Farley.

“I believe the public, it makes a difference how they perceive it, you know. If we do this, they might accept that $20 per month knowing what it’s going for, versus raising the overall rate,” said Councilman Butch Holland.

“I think they are just so tired of constantly having a water main break,” said Dotson.

Once the project is paid for the monthly fees would be removed.

The discussion was tabled to allow Dotson and City Clerk/Treasurer Bethany Cooper to do an analysis on a random drawing of monthly bills from that district to see how increasing the cost per gallon would affect it.

A discussion was held on reimbursing developers on installation of water and sewer lane extensions. State statute says all cities should have a policy in place to reimburse developers who place over 100 feet of water and sewer mains, but the majority of cities do not have one according to City Attorney Rob Mattingly after researching other cities in Kentucky. Mattingly will continue researching and bring a policy back to the council for approval.

First readings were held on three ordinances. Per a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Board in June 2019, the first ordinance prohibits storage container homes in all districts and adds a reference to R4 zone.

The next ordinance relates to the publication of ordinances book. City Attorney Rob Mattingly is in the process of going through the city’s ordinances to make some amendments. The official printed publication, which is printed yearly, will serve as the official document for the city.

The third first ordinance prohibits storage and shipping containers from being used as accessory structures for storage. This stemmed from the October 18 council meeting when a resident was present after receiving a letter stating he was in violation of having a storage container on his property.

Complete copies of the ordinances are available for viewing during regular business hours at Benton City Hall.

In other business, the council:

• Held a second reading on an ordinance to change the property at 212 E. 13th St. from a C1 to R3.

• Discussed a donation to the Merryman House which is affiliated with the Marshall County Resiliency Center. The Merryman House had a substantial cut in funding. Last year 14% of the people served were from Marshall County.

• Reappointed Martie Wiles and Steven Moore to the housing authority board.

• Heard the monthly police report. Police Chief Stephen Sanderson reported that during the month of October the department responded to 845 calls for service, issued 84 citations — 13 were criminal and 71 were traffic, opened 12 cases and responded to 12 vehicle collisions.