Water rate increase coming

The City Council last week introduced a new ordinance (O-11-13) that will raise water rates by about $20, or about 15 percent, effective April 1. The ordinance will come up for a public hearing and final approval at the March 11 regular meeting.

After the water utility ran a deficit of $170,000 in 2010, water rates were raised last year by about 5 percent last year. The City Council at the time considered a recommendation by the city administrator of increasing rates 5 percent for three consecutive years, but the governing body instead sought to address it on an annual basis.

The ordinance would increase the minimum monthly charge from $11.41 to $13.12, an increase of $1.71, nearly 15 percent. The ordinance stipulates increases of 2 percent annually through 2016. The increase would generate about $487,000 for the remaining eight months of 2013, or $13.68 to the minimum user.

In a Feb. 7 memo to Mayor Rick Proctor, Chief Financial Officer Frank Ruggiero explained that the additional revenue will reduce or eliminate the need for the city budget to supplement water utility operations, enable the utility to again become self-liquidating, and fund upcoming capital improvements.

“This amendment would be in the best interest of the city to have the Water Utility Fund be self-liquidating and not rely on the current fund to supplement the operations,” Ruggiero wrote in his memo to the mayor.

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