Budget Presentation Leads to Discussion About Litchfield Water, Sewer Rates
Mon, 25 Mar 2019 11:21:29 CDT
A discussion about water and sewer rates in the City of Litchfield followed a budget presentation during the city council meeting on Thursday, Mar. 21.
Jereme Zook with Kerber, Eck and Braeckel presented the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2019. It included a recommended eight percent increase in water rates and a 12 percent increase in sewer rates for customers. He said for families with a $50 monthly water bill, it could mean an increase of between three to five dollars per month.
The city's sewer budget is the more pressing issue, Zook said. Based on its current trajectory, he told the council that the sewer department will be out of money in four years, even with the proposed 12 percent rate increase.
Alderman Dwayne Gerl said he did not believe an increase that high would pass in a vote, and that sewer customers are already frustrated with the current prices they pay. KEB representative Levi Suhrenbrock told the council that if they declined to approve an increase of any amount this year, they were looking at a possible 18 percent increase in sewer rates for the following year's budget. He said 12 percent was the number this year because the council neglected to increase the rates last year.
Zook said the increase did not have to be 12 percent, and that that was the lowest number recommended to help try and get the department's budget back on track. City Administrator Tonya Flannery added that nobody likes facing an increase in water and sewer rates, and that they tried to find the lowest numbers they could.
Alderman Ray Kellenberger questioned what would happen if the sewer department did run out of money in the projected four years. Suhrenbrock said the state could then sue the city to force them to increase their rates.
Increases of both five and six percent were also mentioned during the discussion, but nothing was agreed upon Thursday. The city will hold a budget hearing prior to their next meeting on Thursday, Apr. 4, and will vote on the proposed budget during that meeting.
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