Sedalia Businesses Seeing 300 Percent Sewer Rate Increase
SEDALIA - Business owners are getting their sewer bills from last month and seeing 300 percent rate increases. The water meter service charge was previously $2.15 a month. Because of an ordinance the mayor approved in December, the monthly rate for businesses is now $35 a month. The city had to increase rates in order to comply with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, which said the city was in violation of the Missouri Clean Water Law. Sedalia has seven years to fix its sewers as mandated by the DNR. The city is using the higher fees to help pay for the $30 million cost of updating the sewer system. Public Works Director Bill Beck says the city council thought about people like Martin before raising rates.
"The mom and pop type business, the person that maybe gets a drink of water or something once a day in there," Beck said. "They don't bring in a lot of income anyway."
Wine and More Owner Turf Martin paid $34.58 for his sewer bill in January and paid $111.65 for his bill in February, a 322 % increase. Martin has two water meters in his store, one for a toilet and another for his kitchen.
"As a small business owner, a very small business owner with one toilet, we're paying the same rate, base rate they call it. It's actually a fee the way I look at it, of $35."
Martin thinks he shouldn't have to pay as high of a service charge for his toilet because it's used just a few times a day. He also thinks the city could have started working on its sewer system a long time ago.
"We're paying 50 years of putting off for tomorrow what should have been done today," Beck said.
The city faces fines from the DNR if it doesn't finish updating its system in seven years. The fines start at $500 a day for the first 30 days but then go to $1,000 for every day after that. By April 30, the city needs to submit its engineering report to the DNR on how high its water flow is.