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Water and Sewer Fees Impeding Progress?

Building a large-scale project in Pleasant View might cost a lot more than you would expect, especially when it comes to getting water and sewer service, and some worry that those costs could impede more big businesses from coming into town.

According to documents obtained by The Post, the Pleasant View Utility District is charging over $90,000 for installing water and sewer service at the new Hampton Inn under construction on Highway 49. According to the PVUD, about $34,000 - $35,000 of that amount is for water tap fees, and another $45,000 is for what is called an “administrative fee.”

While that figure might seem to make sense for a four-story hotel with 92 rooms, a comparison to other communities’ water and sewer service fees for similar projects paints a different picture. In Clarksville, the Tru By Hilton hotel being built near Governor’s Square Mall is a 41,000 square foot project, with water and sewer fees of approximately $10,000. In downtown Nashville, a five-story hotel with 95 rooms built in 2016 had water and sewer fees at approximately $75,000.

Utility Fees Explained

Pleasant View Utility District General Manager John Anthony said that the cost of the Hampton Inn project was lower than some single-family projects in the community, when asked about whether the costs of water and sewer installation for the hotel seemed a bit steep. As far as the “administrative fee,” Anthony said that the funds went towards covering engineering, design, state, and legal fees, as well as to helping to maintain the system that was installed.

Regarding the process the PVUD uses to determine what to charge new commercial customers, he said the utility uses single family equivalent criteria to base their fees. In addition, the PVUD uses a computer system which calculates costs based on the number of water fixtures in the project. The computer system has been in use the past 10 years and had an upgrade about 2-3 years ago.

“We do understand that a hotel room is not a household unit,” Anthony explained. As far as why the PVUD water and sewer fees seemed higher compared to other communities, he said that other towns and cities have other fees besides tap fees involved in large projects.

The PVUD said they are just working to do their best to keep the infrastructure improving in tandem with the tremendous growth the area is seeing. “In 1998-2000, we did some improvements, and will do more in the next few years. We are currently working on a design for a larger sewer system,” Anthony said, with an estimated cost of about $3 million.

Tourism Encourages Growth, Eases Tax Burden

While it is important to maintain local utilities in a growing community, bringing in new businesses like hotels is also vital to keep that growth going and offsetting the tax burden for citizens. State tourism officials said in addition to benefiting the community with new jobs, lodging is a key component of any successful tourism program. “It’s also an important element for attracting new business in general,” said Amanda Murphy, Director of Communications, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development.

An even more important reason to bring in more tourism-related business is that the tax dollars from visitors help offset the tax burden for citizens. As a result of taxes generated by tourist activity in Cheatham County in 2017, each household paid $151.97 less in local taxes.

Besides offering new jobs and new services for Pleasant View, Mayor Perry Keenan said encouraging tourism helps build a strong reputation for the town, as a community that is welcoming to other new hotels, restaurants, grocery stores, and retailers. If the PVUD steps in and becomes a partner and a good steward of the community by working to accommodate new businesses, that will help the utility build a better reputation with both citizens and industry, he said.

A meeting on the utility fees will be held at the PVUD offices Wednesday, August 21, at 4 p.m.

The Post will provide an update on what happens during the meeting.

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