Pine River water rates going up
The Pine River City Council decided Tuesday, July 8, to increase water service rates by $3 per month each of the next two years. The current monthly charge of $22 covers up to 4,000 gallons of water per month per customer. With the increases, cus...
The Pine River City Council decided Tuesday, July 8, to increase water service rates by $3 per month each of the next two years.
The current monthly charge of $22 covers up to 4,000 gallons of water per month per customer. With the increases, customers will pay $25 per month for the same amount of water starting Jan. 1, 2015, and $28 a month starting Jan. 1, 2016.
The city has a goal of gradually increasing the rate to $33 or $34 a month. City Engineer Bryan Drown of Bolton & Menk said the city could lose access to certain funding by charging less.
"Based on affordability formulas that the state and federal funding programs have, you're not really going to be eligible for some funding because they will see that as a gap for what's affordable and that you aren't charging your residents at. That comes in at $33 or $34 a month," Drown said.
Increasing the water rates by $1 or $2 per month over the next two years was discussed, but council member Tony Desanto recommended the $3 per month hike in light of the fact that expenses have been steadily increasing and the city needs to keep up.
"You look at some of the larger cities around the country that are charging $65 to $70 a month for water. At $22, we can't keep up," Desanto said.
Public Works Director Mike Hansen discussed the possibility of decreasing the monthly water allowance for customers from 4,000 to 3,000 gallons, saying few residents use that much water. The council discussed it, but prefered an increase in the water rate.
The council also adopted a policy giving the city permission to disconnect water service to properties if the city is denied access to the water meter. This policy also allows the city to charge fees for reconnection.
The council also discussed a request by a resident for reimbursement of costs and time spent cleaning up after the resident's sewer backed up.
Hansen said the backup was likely caused by tampering by neighborhood children putting items in the local sewer. The council approved purchase of a special manhole cover to prevent tampering. The council also agreed to reimburse the resident $50, an amount the city paid to another resident following similar circumstances.
In other business July 8, the council:
• Approved an increase in the Pine River Fire Department's yearly benefits from $2,400 to $2,700 for each year served.
• Heard that the Forbes Park Campground was full during the weekend of the Pine River Summerfest and Cass County Fair. Hansen said visitors appreciated recent updates to the park and said he would like to work on Americans with Disabilities Act updates to the bathroom facilities there.
• Decided to maintain a section of the road near the Pine River Dam Park as a no parking area.
• Agreed to allow Hansen and maintenance worker Leroy Hulke to carry over unused vacation time until the end of August.
• Approved a proclamation announcing July 21 as Keith Farnam Day in Pine River in honor of the retiring 40-year volunteer firefighter.
• Approved a bid by Eagle Construction of Little Falls for construction of a snow removal equipment building at the airport for $347,150 contingent upon the city being awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grant where the city would pay 5 percent of the cost, the FAA 90 percent and the Minnesota Department of Transportation Aeronautics division 5 percent.