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Monett City Council passes rate change

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Monett City Council accepted public comment and passed a proposed water rate increase during the Nov. 20 meeting.

The water rate increase will go into effect on April, 2014. According to Utilities Superintendent Pete Rauch, the city's engineering firm, Allgeier, Martin and Associates, reviewed city utility rates with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) when the city applied for financing of the new water treatment plant through the State Revolving Fund.

Rauch said reviewers determined the current rates would fall slightly short of the recommended reserve for maintenance and system replacement. The addition of 15 cents per 1,000 gallons of water purchased would generate an additional $150,000 a year. The increase was delayed to the fiscal year when the water treatment plant will be built.

Also scheduled was public comment on a proposed sewer rate increase to achieve two goals. Rauch said revenues for sewer service presently do not cover annual costs. The phased-in increase will bring the department back into the black and will provide funding for a more aggressive approach to fixing the inflow and infiltration problems in the sewer system.

Over the past decade, city councils have budgeted approximately $100,000 a year to spend with the Insituform company to line cracked sewer mains. At that rate, Rauch said it will take decades to significantly address the problem. More funding will make a more aggressive strategy possible.

The first part of the increase will phase in beginning Jan. 1, 2013. The base rate will increase by $2. The cost of each additional 1,000 gallons will rise by 28 cents. The base rate will increase another $2 on Jan. 1, 2014 and Jan. 1, 2015, when the unit charge of an additional 1,000 gallons will rise by 20 cents each year. When the phase-in is completed, the base rate for sewer service will be $18 a month, plus $2.65 for each additional 1,000 gallons used.

Mayor Jim Orr scheduled final passage for the next monthly meeting on Dec. 20.

Also scheduled for public comment on Dec. 20 is the request to rezone the 80-year-old service station property at 1000 and 1010 N. Central, located north of the Dairy Queen. The property, in two pieces, is owned by former Dairy Queen owner Ed Daugherty and Bill Grimes, the current Dairy Queen owner. The property is presently zoned for multi-family use. Daugherty has asked to have both lots available for use as commercial property.

As part of the review for the State Revolving Fund application, DNR recommended a series of definitions in city ordinances relating to water service. DNR also asked the city to set up separate funds within the water department for operation and maintenance as well as for replacement. Council members approved both changes.

A contract was approved with TEK Cleaning Services, of Springfield, which provides custodial services for the Justice Center, the utilities warehouse and the public works building. Pyle said the service was put up for bid.

TEK began working for the city by taking over for two full-time city employees who retired. The firm underbid its own fee of $1,921 a month by offering $1,527. Council members approved two years of service at the same price. Pyle said the deal will save the city around $4,700 a year.

Action was taken renewing the city's employee health insurance, sticking with CoxHealth as the provider. Pyle said CoxHealth offered a 4.8 percent increase for the coming year. Anthem bid a price that was 8.8 percent higher than the city is currently paying. The bid from United Healthcare was 12.1 percent higher than the current premium.

Pyle said the one-year CoxHealth policy will raise the city's cost from $438 per employee to $459. Orr said the policy is unchanged and will again offer tobacco education classes for interested employees.

Council members also voted to renew the city's membership with Missouri Rural Services, a consortium of public bodies collaborating on the purchase of worker's compensation insurance. Membership is $400 a year.

Bills for the month totaling $1,460,087.69 were paid. Major bills included $953,218.95 to Empire District Electric for wholesale electricity; $47,000 to Harry Cooper Supply for wire to mount the new lights at North Park; and $32,456.60 to Kenny Hall Construction as final payment for construction of the well house for the #21 well on the Jack Henry and Associates campus

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