Water rates are going up…

Well folks, your water rates will soon be going up. Tonight I lost my long hard fought battle against the measure, but when it is three against one, chances are you are not going to win.

I did a little informal study of my own today and found that compared to 3 other towns in the Southeast Missouri area, which are relatively the same size as Marble Hill, our water rates were actually on the “high” end already.

When the mayor called for discussion of the measure, I shared the results of the study which I am posting below:

Marble Hill: 

Water minimum charge: $9.18 for first 2,500 gallons, then .20 cents for each additional 100 gallons. 

Sewer minimum charge: $9.09 for first 2,500 gallons, then .24 cents for each additional 100 gallons. 

Trash: $10.60 

Advance:  

Water minimum charge: $8.00  / then 20 cents per 100 gals used.

Sewer minimum charge: $ 4.06/ then 2.47 cents per 1000 gals used

Trash: $8.64 

Benton:    

Water: $6.30 for first 2000 gallons

           $2.70 for next 1000 gallons

           $1.35 For everything over 3000 gallons

Sewer rates match water rates

Trash: $9.25 

Oran: 

Water: $9.20 for 0-2000 gallons used

           $10.45 for 2000-3000 gallons used

           .50 cents per 1000 gallons over 3000 

Sewer: .84 cents per 1000 gallons

Trash: $7.75 

If a family uses an average of 3000 gallons per month they would pay the following rates for water and sewer and trash (before taxes) The first total is the combined water and sewer usage fees , the second is the addition of trash pick up fees and the final total is a combination of water, sewer and trash : 

Advance: $25.47 + 8.64 for trash = $34.11

Marble Hill: $20.47+10.60 for trash = $31.07 

Benton:   $19.45 + 9.25 for trash = $28.70 

In Oran:  $12.97 + 7.75 for trash = $20.72

What this means…

Since the ordinance was passed as written it means that 3000 gallons of water and sewer, with trash pick-up will increase from $31.07 to 39.47 per month.

The vote was as follows:

Alderman Sears:        Yes

Alderman Lacy:         No

Alderman McCain:     Yes

Alderman Southwick: Yes

The good news is that we continue to see citizens attending monthly meetings. We had about 12 citizens visit tonight.

After the vote was made, one citizen asked, ” I realized that you all have already raised the water rates, but what are we going to get for our increase?”

To which I replied (in all seriousness), “Probably water bubbling out of your street”.

Alderman McCain addressed the citizen by saying , “This will help us get grants to fix the water and sewer lines. In the past we’ve been denied water and sewer grants because our water and sewer system has been operating in the red”

Perhaps if Alderman McCain had been present at the August 18th, public hearing or had read the August 20th, 2008 Banner Press coverage of it, he would know that when asked when was the last time the city applied for water or sewage grants, Assistant City Administrator Shrum stated, “I think it was in 2002 but I can’t be sure”.

My point was this: If the City is not applying for grants to improveour water and sewer system, the raise my coleagues just approved of really isn’t going to do any good.

Money will continually be spent towards “patchwork” fixes, and not improvements, so the only residents will most likely see from the rate hikes is “water bubbling out of your street”.

As a side note, while Alderman McCain missed the public hearing on such issues as water rates, and caterer’s liquor liscences, take comfort in knowing that brought up the city’s dog ordinance laws, indicating that he thinks they need to be revised. If he is successful, then it will be the third time in two years. Remember that next time you have air in your water line.

Clint E. Lacy

Alderman, Ward I.

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2 Responses to “Water rates are going up…”

  1. Mary Toombs Says:

    So glad this link was posted in the Missourian’s Speak Out comment section (I would have posted a reply on this topic, but since the changes there, I’ve been unable to post most of the time).

    Shrum should have come to the meeting prepared, with facts and figures, and definitely should have known when the City last applied for any related grants. It would be interesting to see his position’s job description.

    The resident’s question regarding what will be done with this increase was quite valid. Having had 20+ years of second-hand knowledge (due to husband’s municipal employment) about how local governments should be run, I’m assuming there is a plan, in black-and-white, to refer to? Surely the town’s officials didn’t present an expected price increase without having a solid plan for the use of the funds requested. If there is no concrete plan, then how could the three aldermen, in all good conscience, vote for the increase? In thinking about this apparent lack of forethought or planning, I recall the new well that became rather a fiasco, at least for those of us living on the ‘hill;’ since the city fathers decided to save money and not built the tower as recommended, the water pressure is abysmal, the lime content is very high, and there is an odd ‘scum’ left on the top of water that has sat for more than an hour or so.

    Additionally: Is it true that MH is paying $18,000 a year for rent on a copier? If so, this should almost be considered a criminal use of taxpayers’ money. From everything I’ve seen when visiting City Hall, there is absolutely no reason to have such a glorified copier. It is kind of sweet, though, to see the employees, who appear to have little or nothing to do to fill their working hours, gossiping and playing with a dog. Seems to me that there should be some sort of Efficiency Study done here.

    This water/sewer raise is going to hurt many of us, especially those of us living primarily on Social Security. This past year of rising gas and grocery prices have had serious effects on SS income; raising any taxes or utility rates now is as out of line as anything I can think of. I moved here in the belief (from my very younger days) that small towns cared more than larger cities about their residents and the town’s appearance, and were cheaper in which to live. That’s no longer the case, obviously. I’ll be availing myself of the artesian well water more often, and looking for another wringer washer in order to conserve.

    Clint, I’m not sure you will be able to ‘buck’ the Good Old Boy syndrome in Marble Hill, but there are many of us who are behind you all the way. From past articles you have written, you obviously have more intelligence than what Marble Hill residents have come to expect, and I foresee that perhaps being a problem for you, as it will be intimidating to those ‘in power,’ as well as to their friends and supporters.

    Don’t give up on us all!

    Mary

  2. Alderman Lacy Says:

    Mrs. Toombs,

    Thank You for responding and giving public feedback. I am doing my very best, and I certainly did the best I could to prevent the water and sewer rate hikes.

    Sadly my best wasn’t good enough, in the end all I could do was cast my “no” vote.

    The $18,000 dollar a year copying machine seems to be a myth, however, I don’t have any hard facts here, but I would say that I would not be surprised if it were around $4000-6000 per year.

    I talked to a friend in the industry and he said that leasing the machines is not uncommon due to the fact that the copier industry no longer provides regular financing.

    Stay tuned I will be posting changes concerning fall clean up day very soon.

    Sincerely,
    Clint E. Lacy
    Alderman, Ward I, Marble Hill

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