Thursday, January 13, 2011
Households in Auxvasse will see a cost increase on their next water and sewer bills because of a rate hike that was approved at Tuesday’s board of aldermen meeting.
The rate increase will affect about 425 households inside of city limits, the city reported. There will be a 35.3 percent increase to the base water rate, which means tacking on $3 to each monthly bill. There will also be a 20 percent increase to the base sewer rate, which will add $3 to each monthly sewer bill.
This will typically mean citizens would see a total of $6 added. These percentages are for the base rate only, not the usage rate. The hike will take effect immediately and will appear on February bills.
Missy Hooks, city clerk, reported that the last water rate increase was in 2001 and the last sewer increase was in 2003.
She stated the rate boost would generate an additional $30,600 in revenues for the city.
Mayor Kevin Phares said the revenue will go toward building new water mains, a new well and a new filter system.
“We’ve had so many water main breaks this last year. Everything’s worn out and old,” Phares said.
He said the city used to have four wells, but only one is still operational.
“If this one goes down, we’re up a creek,” Phares said.
The estimated cost to put in the required water infrastructure is $800,000, Phares said. This doesn’t include the $20,000 to $30,000 needed to refurbish the city’s water tower.
The city plans to remove deteriorated and broken water lines under Harrison Street and replace them with new lines that run along the street. Phares said the city already owns the required property. He said the Missouri Department of Transportation does not permit water lines to be placed under the street.
He also said the city would apply for a federal grant for the project, but a grant would only cover 80 percent of the cost. The project is at least a year or more out, Phares said. When the new filtering system is completed it “will dramatically improve” the city’s water quality, he said.
Before the council passed the ordinances to increase the water and sewer rates, there was a public meeting held at city hall so citizens could discuss concerns. Only one person, besides city officials, attended and didn’t voice any comments about the increase.
Phares said he has heard a lot of negativity from citizens about the rate hikes.
“The biggest problem is people don’t come to the meetings, and they don’t understand what’s really going on,” he said.
Phares said that after he explains the situation to citizens who approach him about the issue, then they understand.
“During these times of struggle, the city understands the struggle itself and does not wish to raise rates for any other reason but to help with infrastructure, inflation and rising cost of operation and maintenance,” Hooks stated.