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Board OKs water rate increase

A water rate increase for Monticello residents is on tap.

Alderman Tuesday mulled six separate water increase plans beforechoosing a plan that increases the base rate to $13.50 per monthand $1.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons used over the 2,500gallon allowance. Present rates for residential water are $10.50 upto 2,500 gallons and $1.25 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

For an average household generating 7,900 gallons per month,this would result in a bill of approximately $36 for water andsewer usage fees, said Mayor David Nichols. Given the samecircumstances, the present rate brings in approximately $31.50.

“This is the first rate increase we’ve had in more than threeyears,” he said. “And I think it’s large enough that we won’t haveto make another increase for at least the same amount of time.”

Commercial rates will also rise. They will go from $13 to $15 upto 2,500 gallons with an increase of 25 cents for each additional1,000 gallons.

The increase will affect approximately 700 residential andcommercial customers of town water. It is expected to generateslightly more than $341,500 annually, Nichols said.

Current rates generate approximately $290,000, which is arevenue shortage of nearly $33,000 in meeting operational costs anddebt payments incurred for improvements.

Aldermen chose to raise the rates higher than the amount neededto offset the present shortfall in order to avoid annual water rateincreases and to build up funds for a prospective annexation. Thefunds would be needed to extend the existing water system intothose areas should a planned annexation effort succeed.

Ward Two Alderman Steve Moreman said he preferred a differentplan coming into the meeting, but was persuaded by Nichols’arguments in favor of the approved plan.

The plan Moreman originally favored would have kept the baserate at $13 for the first 2,500 gallons but had a heftier increasefor users that exceeded that amount. It would have raised the priceto $1.50 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

However, it would not have made less for the town and likelycaused the town to consider another rate increase should theannexation be approved.

Aldermen were concerned about the timing of the rateincrease.

“I hate to raise it now because everything else is coming up,but we can’t continue to lose money,” Moreman said.

Nichols said City Clerk Debbie Lea did a price comparison withthe rural water utilities serving the county and found that thetown rate after the increase would still be less.

“We’re still lower than just about anyone else,” Nicholssaid.

The average of water rates in the county was $2.25 per gallon.The rate for town water, in the most expensive proposal, would be$1.50 per gallon.

Aldermen also approved a rate increase in bulk water rates from$5 to $8 per 1,000 gallons. Bulk water is obtained directly fromthe hydrant and primarily used in construction work.