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story.lead_photo.caption By October, Mokane residents will pay $49 for sewer and $55 for water. Photo by Olivia Garrett / Fulton Sun.

MOKANE — The Mokane Board of Aldermen unanimously approved gradual increased water and sewer fees Friday.

Now, Mokane customers will owe $40 for sewer service and $35 for water service beginning in April. In July, fees will increase to $45 for sewer and $50 for water. In October, fees will increase to $49 for sewer and $55 for water.

Fees will remain at that amount until the city has installed new meters. At that point, the fees will switch to a metered system where each resident will be expected to pay a not-yet determined base rate and additional fees based on usage.

The city has informed the community the increases were coming multiple times in recent months, including during a March 22 public meeting. The rate increases will help the city pay for the substantial water and sewer projects it is working on.

Exact figures were based on a rate study completed by consultant CPWG Engineering. The city opted for three smaller increases over the next few months as opposed to raising fees immediately all at once.

"We had a rate study completed," Mayor Jo Belmont said. "What we did is we took the amount we're paying now and the amount the rate study said we needed to be at in order to meet our (obligations) and then I just divided it by three."

Board member Chad Booher said he's heard people are saying they are excited about the sewer and water projects.

"What we're hearing is people talking about how much better their property value is going to be," Booher said.

Residents are less excited about the increased fees that will pay for the work.

"They just don't like the rate increase," board member Debra Taylor said. "Well, nobody really likes a rate increase, but in order for us to have better infrastructure, we have to."

One complaint is the increases will raise rates for all residents regardless of usage, but equity is an eventual goal of the city.

"That's one of the reason's we're doing it," Booher said. "It'll be more equitable for people that live here, and it will be a much better water system."

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