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Plan to reduce water rate hikes proposed

By Staff | Jun 14, 2011

City staff says it has found a way to bring projected water rate increases down to zero for the next two years if city council chooses to accept a certain combination of ideas.
The infill assessment for vacant properties, which council has been kicking around since May, could be used in conjunction with another proposal that council is set to hear during its Committee of the Whole workshop on Wednesday.
Infill lots are undeveloped properties within areas with utilities available.
Wednesday’s meeting will focus on a Biosolids presentation and use of the city’s sludge drying equipment.
City Business Manager Mike Ilczyszyn said if used together, the proposals could signal no water rate increases for two years and a 3.5 percent increase for the following two years.
The zero increase wouldn’t take effect until the fourth quarter of Fiscal Year 2012, but staff also is studying the rate model to determine if there are opportunities to bring the scheduled increase of 8 percent — set to take effect Oct. 1 — down further, Ilczyszyn said.
The city currently has the capacity to serve the nearly 16,000 vacant parcels, according to Ilczyszyn.
Council will hear the full proposal Wednesday and determine if the combination of the two will benefit the city.
Councilman Derrick Donnell said he saw “yellow and red flags” in the proposal but remained hopeful it is viable.
Mayor John Sullivan said he was still worried about the legality of the plan, and that the numbers, as presented in the proposal, would stand up to state statutes.
“I’m worried about this blowing up in our face,” Sullivan said.
Ilczyszyn said the law states you can only charge lot owners the capacity of what their buying into, and in that way the proposal would remain viable.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail said he favored the infill assessment proposal, as it stands, because lot owners were expected to hook up to the system if they ever hoped to develop their property.
“You had to use those lines and that capacity with the expectation that a home would be there,” he said.
City council is set to meet Wednesday at 5 p.m. in council chambers for its Committee of the Whole meeting.
They could vote on the infill assessment proposal as early as next Monday, their final meeting before they go on their summer hiatus.