water, sewer fees
plan to require meters
Express Staff Writer
City Council members Thursday approved resolutions for the city to
increase monthly fees for water and sewer services by 4.99 percent,
effective January 1, 2003.
separate votes, the panel moved to increase monthly water-service
charges from $15.75 to $ 16.53 per connection, and to increase monthly
sewer-service charges from $17.75 to $18.63 per connection.
vote was unanimous. Council members voted 5-1 to increase water fees,
with Councilman Wayne Douthit dissenting. The panel later voted 4-2 to
raise sewer fees, with council members Douthit and Parke Mitchell
opposing the change.
Jon Wilkes, the panel’s appointee to oversee the city’s public
utility services, presented the case for both fee increases. Wilkes said
the city’s infrastructure is "beset with a multitude of
problems," and that action must be taken to create a water- and
sewer-budget surplus to cover future maintenance and improvement
certainly think it’s time," he said, noting that fees for either
service had not been increased in several years.
Douthit firmly opposed the proposed water-fee increase, stating that he
believed the city needs to pursue a comprehensive plan to manage the
the rates or lowering the rates isn’t going to make us have any more
water," he said. "That’s the problem, we don’t have enough
calling for the council to "get a game plan going," he said he
was not altogether opposed to increasing rates, but wanted a broad
discussion of the matter. "I think per-use is the better way to
charge," he added.
countered that he believed the 4.99 percent increase—the maximum the
city can raise the fees without conducting a vote—would not place an
unreasonable burden on residents. He estimated the water-fee increase
would cost the average customer about $12 per year.
think that borrowing moneys from all the different places like we do has
got to come to an end," he said.
John Barton voiced his support for the water-fee increase. "This
really isn’t a shot in the dark," he said. "We’ve had many
hours of discussion on this."
Administrator Jack Stoneback noted that the city would bring in a mere
$10,000 extra from the city’s 900-or-so water customers if the
proposed rate hike was enacted.
got to start somewhere," Councilwoman Tammy Schofield said.
"As a council, this council takes so long to get things done… I
am at least for starting the ball rolling.
are leaks, lots of little leaks, all over the city."
called a motion to adopt the fee increase shortly before the 5-1 tally
in favor of the plan was counted.
held only a brief discussion on the proposal to raise sewer fees.
Douthit again opposed the plan, but again was in the minority when
Wilkes made a motion to approve the rate hike.
members following the second vote conducted a lengthy discussion of a
third proposal by Wilkes to require all future water taps installed in
the city to be accompanied by water meters and water-meter vaults.
said the city needs to "start acquiring data" on residential
water use so the city can better formulate a plan to monitor—and
possibly charge for—customers’ total water consumption.
we don’t start somewhere to do this, we might as well just put it to
bed," Wilkes said.
four council members voted to table the proposal until their next
meeting Oct. 24, at which they will conduct a broad discussion on
managing and improving the city’s water system.