Middlebourne approves new water rates
A short but productive meeting of Middlebourne City Council culminated in passage of a new water and sewage rate ordinance.
Mayor Gayla Fisher called the meeting to order. Councilwoman Verna Henthorn then read the minutes of both the Dec. 13 and Dec. 27 meetings, which were approved.
The first order of business council addressed was the upcoming April 5 elections for mayor, council members and recorder. Nominations convention will be held Jan. 24, and the time period for nominating is Jan. 10 through 29. Nominations may be made at the city building. (All nominations must be made in person, no phone nominations are accepted.) Anyone nominated who does not wish to run for office must decline the nomination before Feb. 15, or their name will be on the ballot.
The main topic of Monday night’s meeting concerned the new water and sewage rate ordinance. Mayor Gayla Fisher explained that the current facilities are over twenty-five years old, and while several measures have been taken to hold down costs to consumers, a rate increase is necessary. Chemicals used at the plant are increasingly expensive, utility rates are up, and repairs are needed. “We have taken more preventive measures than ever before,” noted Mayor Fisher, “and we are doing our best not to pass every cost along to the city.”
Mayor Fisher commented that grants totaling $19,000 have been obtained to help defray expenses. Five thousand dollars will be used towards having the sedimentation basin pumped (on January 17); replacement of a “flocculator” will use $10,000 of the grant funds; and replacement of a pump was funded with $4,000 of grant money. She also explained that the city has been taking preventive measures to keep costs down, such as flushing the water lines. In addition council has been “price shopping”, trying to obtain the best rates for parts and labor.
A majority vote approved a title only reading of the ordinances to those in attendance. Councilman Dave Smith asked that it be noted in the record that no one from the public was in attendance to protest the ordinance. Councilman Doug Doak made a motion to include Smith’s statement into the minutes, which was seconded by councilman Dave Meyers. The motion carried.
Both the water rate ordinance and the sewage rate ordinance were approved by council, with councilman Bob Clem making the motion to approve the water rate passage (seconded by councilman Rodney Miller). Miller also made the motion to approve the sewage rate ordinance, and was seconded by Clem.
It was noted that the rate increase for water and sewage will take effect 45 days from the date of the approval. Mayor Fisher stated that council would like to see these rates increase incrementally, if possible. “It would be better to introduce smaller increases, if feasible, on a yearly basis,” she said. “As much as we would like to avoid rate increases, it must be done,” she added.
“It will save money, in the long run,” remarked councilman Dave Smith.
The increase could be as much as 20 per cent for water and 15 per cent for sewer usage fees. Under this plan, the current minimum usage rate for water ( $16.71 for 3,000 gallons) would rise to $20.05. Sewage fees under the new ordinance would rise to $34.37 (up from $29.88) per month.
Those in attendance at the meeting were: Mayor Gayla Fisher; city attorney Gary Rymer; and council members Dave Smiith, Dave Meyers, Verna Henthorn, Doug Doak, Bob Clem and Rodney Miller.
The next meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 14.