City plans to raise water rates to upgrade infrastructure: public hearing set for Feb. 24th

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The City of Mountain Home’s Public Works Department recently recommended that the city raise it’s wastewater rates and water rates. The matter will receive a public hearing in front of the City Council at their next meeting on Feb. 24 at 6 p.m.

The increases that have been proposed are significant, with water poised to be raised by 30 percent this year and wastewater increasing by 20 percent after being raised by 35 percent in 2019.

According to Public Works Director Rich Urquidi, these increases are necessary to keep the town’s aging infrastructure working like it should.

In 2011 Keller Associates completed both a Wastewater Master Plan and a Water Master Plan. In the wastewater study the company calculated that to balance the budget in the department, the city should have charged $13.20 for the first 4000 gallons used and $2.73 for every 1000 gallons over the base. At the time, the city was charging $10.80 for the first 4000g and $2.73 for every 1000g over the base amount. The survey went further and found that in order to balance the budget while also starting to build funds for a infrastructure replacement program, the city should raise rates and charge $16.80 for the base rate and $3.00 for each 1000g above the base.

2011 was lean times for the city as the economy was in rough shape and the City Council members at the time did not feel it was a good idea to raise rates by such a large amount. Instead they chose to raise the base rate by a smaller amount of $11.30 for the first 5000g and to $2.85 for each 1000g after that. Over the next few years the increases to rates ranged from three percent to four percent and not coming close to reaching the $16.80 that was forecast in the 2011 study.

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    So since in two years wastewater rates will increase by 55% ( 20 + 35). Seems excessive to me. I wonder what improvements to the water delivery and waste water system warrant this increase of a significant amount in 2 years. IMO the storm water system needs TONS of improvements to reduce all the street flooding when a small storm happens. But I think it would be a waste of time to say this increase makes no sense. Current City leaders could care less what the taxpayer thinks based on recent actions.

    -- Posted by B Mullen on Wed, Feb 19, 2020, at 8:09 PM
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