City council reviews water, sewer rates

Public Works Director Mike Adams proposed decreasing combined sewer and water rates for low-volume users but increasing rates for average and higher-volume users.

Adams proposed the rates during a Sweet Home City Council work session Monday night. He presented the Council with two proposals, one which would maintain current service levels and another that would add two employees to the water and sewer systems.

The current services proposal reflects increases and decreases in personnel and materials costs. The proposal including employees would add a plant operator and a maintenance worker.

The base charge in both proposals includes the first 400 cubic feet of water each month. Base charge for commercial and industrial users does not include the 400 cubic feet.

Sweet Home ordinance requires a review of rates each year to make sure the rate is fully covering the cost of the utilities. The City Council will decide on a new rate later.

Current services

For water, the base charge would decrease from $14.50 per month to $14.20. The price per hundred cubic feet would increase from $2.09 to $2.49. For sewer, the base charge would increase from $14.30 to $14.39. The cost per hundred cubic feet would decrease from $4.41 to $4.17.

For most customers at 400 cubic feet, a user’s sewer and water bill would decrease from $30.78 to $30.28. At 700 cubic feet, slightly below average usage, the price would increase from $44.34 to $45.19. At 1,000 cubic feet, the price would increase from $57.90 to $60.10.

Employee addition

For water, the base charge would decrease from $14.50 per month to $14.35. The price per hundred cubic feet would increase from $2.09 to $2.58. For sewer, the base charge would increase from $14.30 to $14.34. The cost per hundred cubic feet would decrease from $4.41 to $4.32.

For most customers at 400 cubic feet, a user’s sewer and water bill would decrease from $30.78 to $30.38. At 700 cubic feet, slightly below average usage, the price would increase from $44.34 to $46.01. At 1,000 cubic feet, the price would increase from $57.90 to $61.64.

Storm drainage

Adams also unveiled a preliminary attempt to develop a storm drainage charge. The City Council directed Adams to develop a proposal late last fall after residents had visited the council complaining about drainage problems. The proposal is an attempt to provide funds to maintain and improve Sweet Home’s drainage problems.

To arrive at a rate, Adams calculated the total amount of impervious area in Sweet Home based on aerial photos. He was looking to raise $90,000 in revenues. He divided the $90,000 by the total impervious area, 10,708,965. The rate based on that, would be $1.80 per month for 2,570 square feet of impervious area, about the average residential coverage.

Adams said this information was only preliminary, and he is still developing the proposal prior to presentation to the council.

“If we’re going to go forward in this city,” Councilman Bob McIntire said of the proposed sewer and water rates. “We’re going to have to add personnel. I’m like a lot of seniors. I’m on a fixed income.”

But the city needs to keep improving, McIntire said.

Councilman Tim McQueary asked for some kind of measurement on what additional work the new employees would be able to complete.

“It won’t be the end-all, but it will certainly get us closer to accomplishing these goals,” Adams said. Adams pointed to a chart of hours that are needed to complete the work needed in a year. There is not enough history yet to determine how many hours are needed to completely maintain the system

At this point, there are not enough personnel to do it annually, Adams said, but the Public Works Department is attempting to get it down to about two years completely going through the systems.

Dave Holley, who worked with the City Council last year to develop alternatives to last year’s proposed rates, said that a full year of history needs to be collected as discussed last year so personnel needs can be determined. The rates went into effect in July.

Holley, the City Council and staff developed a plan that put money into capital reserves and hired one instead of four proposed employees.

Holley said he could support the first proposal, which would maintain current service levels; but he wanted to know what new employees would add to the system.

“I think that we have to do what we said we’d do,” Holley said. I think we need to take the year.”

Right now, Maintenance Supt. Pat Wood said, the maintenance crews are running around putting out fires and cleaning lines and exercising valves as they can. Public Works is just starting to gain.

“We now have enough just to maintain,” Wood said.

Total
0
Share