HS sewer fee hike hearing set on Jan. 10

— The Board of Aldermen will have a public hearing Jan. 10 on proposed sewer user fee increases to offset sewer treatment service charges imposed by Jefferson City and the addition of new sewerage system lift stations in Holts Summit.

The public hearing will be at 7 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Holts Summit City Hall, 245 South Summit Drive.

Holts Summit City Administrator Brian Crane said the monthly sewer user fee is scheduled to increase 31 cents for each 1,000 gallons of water used by residences.

Crane said the existing user fee of $3.10 per 1,000 gallons of water used would go to $3.41 in 2011, $3.75 in 2012, $4.12 in 2013 and $4.53 in 2014.

“The average user would have an increase of $1.00 to $1.50 per month,” Crane said.

Last year the city set monthly sewer connection fees to increase every year through 2013. Crane said the sewer connection fees will not be part of the sewer user fee hearing on Jan. 10 because the connection fees were set last year. The existing sewer connection fee of $15.83 a month will increase to $17.53 a month on April 1, 2011. The connection fee will increase to $19.23 on April 1, 2012, and to $20.91 per month on April 1, 2013.

Crane said the Jefferson City Sewer Treatment Plant is used to process some of Holts Summit sewage under an agreement between Jefferson City and Holts Summit. Crane said Jefferson City passed a sewer bond issue this year and will impose residential rate hikes in Jefferson City ranging from 35 to 40 percent during the next five years to pay for the bonds used to finance improvements in the Jefferson City sewerage system and treatment plant.

Just to treat part of Holts Summit’s sewage piped to it, Jefferson City charges Holts Summit 71 percent of its fee charged to Jefferson City residents for sewage service, Crane said.

At the same time Holts Summit has added some lift stations. The extra expense of the lift stations and higher Jefferson City sewage treatment fees account for the Holts Summit sewer user fee increases.

Crane stressed the sewer rate hearing on Jan. 10 relates only to normal sewer maintenance and is not connected with the proposed $7 million Holts Summit sewer bond issue election set in April.

No citizen spoke at the Nov. 15 public hearing for or against the $7 revenue bond issue plan last month prior to the Board of Aldermen’s regular meeting when they placed the proposal on the April ballot.

“I was surprised no one spoke or asked questions during that hearing. But the people of Holts Summit are aware of what we are planning. This is not a new problem or issue,” Crane said.

Holts Summit’s current sewerage system is costly to operate and will not be able to meet new state water quality requirements, Crane said.

Crane said the city plans informational forums about the proposed bond issue prior to the April 5, 2011 Holts Summit sewer revenue bond election.

Holts Summit also must pay to maintain its entire sewerage system throughout the city in addition to treatment fees paid to Jefferson City. The latest sewage treatment increases from Jefferson City are scheduled to go up 5 percent or more every year for five years.

The Jefferson City fee increases and the aging sewage treatment plant in Holts Summit combined to convince Holts Summit officials they would be better off financially to build a new sewage treatment plant and an updated sewerage system that would be capable of handling all of the city sewage with no need to send part of it to Jefferson City for treatment.

“Our engineering study showed we could build and operate our own new plant cheaper than paying Jefferson City to treat our sewage,” Crane said.

“We could finance a new plant for about $12,000 a month, which is what we are now sending to Jefferson City every month to treat part of our sewage,” Crane said.

Crane said Jefferson City’s planned rate increase to treat part of Holts Summit’s sewage would range from $50,000 to $75,000 more a year.

If the proposed $7 million bond issue for new sewage treatment plant in Holts Summit is approved, another public hearing will be held on rates required to pay off the bonds. Crane said the rates needed to retire the Holts Summit sewer bonds have not yet been determined. But he noted a 2008 bond study indicated sewer usage fees for the average Holts Summit residential user would need to increase about 54 percent to about $43 to $45 a month.

“That 2008 study is being updated now by Allstate Consultants of Columbia for us to get a better estimate of what we would need to charge to pay off the bonds,” Crane said.

Crane said the average Holts Summit residential customer now pays user fees of about $28 or $29 a month.

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