Saturday, January 22, 2022

Utility Rates Meeting



A quiet and attentive group met Monday morning to learn about the process by which the city council is considering adjustments to water and sewer rates. 75 concerned citizens listened as a member of the city’s Utilities Advisory Board described the actions of the Board together with the late evening action of the city council on September 6, looking toward establishing new sewer rates. At that meeting Chairman Frank Recker reversed course and spearheaded a 4-3 council vote to revise rates. The action was not on the council’s agenda, and had not been noticed in advance. As a result the council could not take final action, but would raise the issue anew at a meeting scheduled for December 6.

Dick Bergman, a member of the advisory board, led the factual discussion going back to the inception of the board, the board’s procedures and the nature of the board’s actions. City Councilman Larry Magel informed the group about the procedures for establishing utility rates, and the question of establishing rates prior to the completion of a study already commissioned by the council.  In an earlier meeting the city council had agreed to retain a utility rates consultant to perform a cost of service study as a prelude to adjusting rates. This is a normal, and usually required act to be completed prior to a city council or other government body taking action on utility rates.

Following presentations the attendees asked numerous questions about the process being employed by the city council, and expressing unanimous support for completion of the consultant’s report in advance of any further action on the rate structure. The commonly expressed view was that the group’s interest is in fairness and proper due process. Most speakers explained that they were particularly concerned about establishing rates before completion of the vital consultant’s report.

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