Alice Campbell Havre Daily News email@example.com
Council members voted unanimously to raise the rate for waste water, or sewage, service by, 90 cents per month on average, to take effect with the April 1 billing period. City resident Dick Cleary asked why the increase was necessary. Mayor Bob Rice said that upgrades had been performed and that more were needed in the near future to maintain the waste water treatment plant in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency's regulations. "We don't take these increases very lightly," Rice said, adding, "We had no choice on this one.” Council member Andrew Brekke also said that the city is required to pay back the loans taken out to perform the two most recent projects, saying that the city must "remain in compliance with our bonding requirements." Those bonding requirements Include a set $500,000 loan and another loan that can total $1 million, but currently totals $850,000, that were taken out to complete the upgrading of 1st Street sewer lines. A $2-million loan is still being paid back, as well, from a plant upgrade in the mid-90s, City Clerk Lowell Swenson said. Public Works Deputy Director Jeff Jensen told residents in attendance that it is costly to maintain the current sewage system. The department's maintenance schedule requires pipe monitoring and flushing to "try to keep all those lines running," he said. All money paid for sewage bills goes in to an enterprise fund specifically for waste water service. The money is then used to pay for maintenance, employee salaries, any work done on the lines as well as the current debt, Swenson said. Under the new increases: Metered customers will pay $2.05 per 1,000 gallons based on average metered winter water usage with an $8.74 service charge each month. Un-metered customers will pay a flat rate of $23.09 each month, which was calculated on the average residential metered winter water usage of 7,000 gallons. Rural sewer charges will be $239 for each connection per year.