Utility Rates Spark Council Interest

9 years 3 months 1 day ago September 07, 2007 Sep 7, 2007 Friday, September 07 2007 Friday, September 07, 2007 10:19:58 AM CDT in News
The city council heard a recommendation for higher rates at a work session Thursday, September 6. The council wanted to get a better understanding of what some utility hikes could mean for the city. City Manager Bill Watkins says the session gave the council a better idea of what effect rate increases would have.

"I think it's important that if we're looking at raising utility rates, which unfortunately we're going to have to do in today's environment, that people feel comfortable that we've really looked at making sure people are only paying what they themselves owe," Watkins said.

The budget under consideration for next year calls for rates to increase in four areas. Water would go up 8 percent, 9 percent for electric, 6 percent for sewer, and 9.5 percent for waste water. But two consulting firms at the session warned some percentages may be deceiving.

"Twenty percent sounds like a huge increase but really it's a $1.40 or it's $2 or whatever," Virchow, Krause and Company consultant Russ Hissom. "So, which isn't an insignificant amount, but in the whole scheme of things it sounds much more dramatic than it actually is."

The discussion lasted more than two hours. The council ended with an understanding that it will have to increase rates to serve a larger population and pay higher production costs. The council will meet again September 17 to make a decision on the increases for the next fiscal year, which begins in October.

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