July 2, 2014 — Can the City of Olive Hill grant free utilities to its fire department?
Olive Hill City Attorney Derrick Willis claims the Journal-Times was mistaken last week when we reported that a city may provide free utilities in such circumstances.
Willis says KRS 278.170 is intended only to cover costs of large amounts of water consumed in fighting a major fire and that it applies only to the Kentucky Public Service Commission, not the city.
Paragraph 3 of that statute reads as follows:
“Upon obtaining commission approval of a tariff setting forth terms and conditions of service the commission deems necessary, a utility as defined in KRS 278.010(3)(d) may grant free or reduced rate service for the purpose of fighting fires or training firefighters to any city, county, urban-county, charter county, fire protection district, or volunteer fire protection district. Any tariff under this section shall require the water user to maintain estimates of the amount of water used for fire protection and training, and to report this water usage to the utility on a regular basis.”
The Journal-Times disagrees with Mr. Willis’ contention that the statute does not apply in this situation.
However, we do acknowledge that the City of Olive Hill would need permission of the Public Service Commission in order to offer free or reduced price utilities.
The matter of budget relief for the Olive Hill Fire Department was expected to be a discussion item at last night’s special meeting of City Council.