Water and sewer rate increase

The Village Board of Trustees are proposing raising water and sewer rates.

Owning or renting a place to live can be costly, especially after factoring in utilities.

In Arlington, water and sewer can cost an average of $70 to $95, according to Village Board chairman Paul Krause.

The board discussed a possibility of increasing those base rates by $3 at its May 18 regular meeting.

“The base rate increase has been suggested after the latest rate study due to annual contract increase with PeopleService, rate increase from Fremont utilities department and the increase of expenses in general,” he said.

Krause said that Fremont raised the rates they charge the village, and with the village expenses, they found they aren’t charging enough to pay all their water and sewer bills.

He said the increase on each portion would bring them to a point where they will be ahead in paying some of the bills.

Krause also said the village would like to reinvest part of that into some more work at trying to find water infiltration and slow down the amount of wastewater that is sent to Fremont.

Krause told the board they should start looking at smaller percentage increases annually, instead of having to do this every five or 10 years until some large projects are paid off.

In April 2016, monthly water rates were set to $28.50 with an increase to $29.50 in 2017. Monthly sewer rates were set to $31 with a usage fee of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons based on monthly water usage.

Krause said he believes the previous increase may have been in 2009.

“Those price increases were the result of a rate study done at the time. The Nebraska Rural Water Association did our rate study this year and likely did the same in 2015-16. I don't recall if the rate Fremont charges had changed at the time,” Krause said.

The village decommissioned its wastewater treatment facility and began piping its wastewater to Fremont around 2010.

“Major expenses since the last increase include exterior painting of the water tower, converting water meters to radio read, smoke and video verification of sewer lines and repair of leaks and rehab of older brick manholes,” he said. “Anticipated repairs include painting the interior of the water tower, one of the two wells feeding the water tower may need replacement, and continued work to stop groundwater infiltration in the sewer system.”

The Arlington Citizen compared Arlington's water and sewer rates with area cities and villages of comparable size.

In Hooper, the base fee for water is $ 26.12, with the price per 1,000 gallons at $2.50. The sewer base fee is $29.38, with the price per 1000 gallons set at $3.05.

"We put an annual 3 percent increase on the base fees so it helps us do a slow increase," Hooper City Clerk Roxanne Meyer said. "We try to keep up with rising costs with the 3 percent increase on the base fees."

Meyer said expenses for water and sewer come out of user fees.

"If you're falling behind on expenses on water and sewer, you have to look at raising your rates," she said.

Meyer said Hooper maintains two wells and one water tower. They send out about 400 water and sewer bills every month.

Mary Boschult, the billing clerk in Scribner, said the monthly water usage rates in Scribner are comparable to Arlington's. Customers with a 3/4-inch service line pay an estimated $61 per month with a $2.25 usage fee per 1,000 gallons. Customers with a 1-inch service line pay on average $76.25 a month.

In Fort Calhoun, residential water rates per 1,000 gallons is $4.82 for the first 10,000 gallons for residential and $7.25 for the first 10,000 gallons for rural water rates. They have 480 customers

and purchase their water from the Papio-Missouri Natural Resources District.

Fort Calhoun city clerk, Alicia Koziol, said their bills are wide ranging.

"Some people only have water, so their bill is a lot less. If they have water and sewer it can run anywhere from $50 to $150," Koziol said. "I guess the average I would say would be about $75.

The village board will next meet June 15.

"We should probably have a new ordinance drafted," Krause said. "I think we can set the final amounts after we have a discussion and I would anticipate reading any water rate change ordinance for three months in a row on this subject instead of suspending the rules."

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