RATE INCREASES - WHY? HOW IS IT SPENT
In order to address the needs of the City’s aging infrastructure, the need for a secure police facility, the need to find solutions for downtown flooding, and the need to maintain and improve streets, the City’s administration has found it necessary to increase rates to its citizens in 2018. Having the increases all come at once is difficult and the Mayor and Council recognize the effects this will have on many citizens. Past councils choose not to raise rates during the recessionary years due to their concerns about the ability of many people who were struggling at the time. This is why the 5-year cycle of Water/Sewer increases was implemented in 2015 based on the rate study. The current Council has chosen to not pass the buck, but to make the difficult decisions to meet the needs of a growing community and aging infrastructure and facilities. The hope is that these are the last of the significant major increases to the citizens and only inflationary increases will be necessary in the foreseeable future.
So Where does all the money go? The increases to the water and sewer rates are being used to maintain the water/sewer infrastructure so services are provided uninterrupted while still paying debt on the Water Filtration Plant, sewer line replacements, and the Wastewater Treatment Facility. Facilities range in age from 20 to 60 plus years with many needing to be upgraded to lower maintenance costs, and meet future needs.
The formation of the new Stormwater Utility is long over due and these fees should have been implemented years ago, but prior administrations chose not to act. Now, there is no longer an option if the City is to address the stormwater concerns and potential flooding. The fees will be used solely to maintain and improve only the stormwater facilities of the City.
Garbage rates are not controlled by the City, but the city has to abide by the contract with the contract provider when they increase rates. Last rate increase was 3 years ago.
The citizens have seen road improvements in many areas which are funded by the now $40-tab fee you see on your vehicle licenses. These projects include improvements on Summit/Woodale (2018), Meeker Drive/Kingwood (2017) and N. 3rd St./N. 4th Place/Juniper (2016). Funds will be used on Streets near the new School site in 2019.
The Utility Tax implemented to fund general capital improvements is paying for the bond to build the police station and will continue after that to cover costs to maintain and improve the City’s buildings in the future, with a hope that future bonding and tax levies won’t be necessary.