On Monday night, Lynette Dilbeck, economic development director, addressed the Cassville City Council regarding the water and sewer rate plan adopted on Sept. 19.
"I would like to offer my observations on the plan to increase water rates from an economic development standpoint," said Lynette. "I agree with the infrastructure task force that there is a need for an increase."
Dilbeck went on to say that increasing the rates to the level suggested by the task force in one step could put the city in a compromised situation regarding economic development.
"Scenario one recommended by MRWA (Missouri Rural Water Association) would raise the base rate for water to $10.60 and the base rate for sewer to $6.80," said Dilbeck. "This keeps Cassville very competitive. There will still be six other municipalities with higher basic rates in the area. Only Neosho will offer lower basic rates."
Dilbeck said that the usage rate recommended by MRWA in scenario one would also keep Cassville competitive. The usage rate would position the city's rates in the middle of the eight cities in the local area.
"Cassville would not be the lowest, but we would not be the highest either," said Dilbeck. "I think we should ease into the rate increase starting with scenario one."
Beginning with the scenario one recommendation and slowly increasing the rates to the recommendation made by the task force would allow the city council to gauge public reaction at each step of the increase, said Dilbeck.
"Cassville could be perceived as unfriendly to business if it suddenly has the highest rates in the area," said Dilbeck. "I believe we need the level recommended by the task force, but it is a question of how quickly we get there."
"As we deliberate, we must try to realize the unintended consequences," said Eugene Dilbeck, city administrator. "We want to make sure we don't solve one problem and create another. There is a balance we have to find.
"We know the costs and we know the need," said Eugene. "It's a matter of how aggressive we need to be to get there. We don't want to be perceived as unnecessarily priced."
Lynette pointed out that if the council votes to increase rates close to the scenario two recommendation made by MRWA, then realizes that the rates are too high and votes to decrease them, the damage will have already been done.
"You will have already gotten an unfriendly view out there," said Lynette.
"It's a good idea," said Alderman Terry Heinz. "We don't want to create rate shock in the community."
Alderman Jeff Parsons indicated that he remains in favor of the recommendation made by the task force.
"We still need to look at what is best for the city," said Parsons. "I think we had a good task force who came up with an excellent idea. I support what they came up with."
The council will hold a public hearing regarding the rate increase plan at the city hall on Thursday, Nov. 3. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.
Mayor Tracy Holle and Eugene reported that additional information is being developed to distribute to Cassville residents. Information will be sent to all utility users within the next two weeks.
Eugene also invited residents to call the city hall for information on how the proposed rate increase will impact their individual households.
Eugene also reported that the Insurance Service Office (ISO) recently conducted an inspection of the effectiveness of the city's building codes. In the past, the city received a rating of six in this portion of the ISO review.
City staff members were recently notified that the results of ISO's latest inspection will decrease the city's rating by two points to an eight.
"We don't know the full impact of this yet," said Eugene. "We don't know what weight this has on our overall fire rating."
The city was negatively impacted, because its current building inspector is not certified or on a path to become certified. The city is also operating under the 2006 International Building Codes (IBC) instead of the 2012 IBC.
"We have 30 days to respond," said Eugene. "We will be responding. If the rate stays at an eight, it could raise the rates on which insurance premiums are based for people who live in Cassville.
"We will be working on this in the weeks ahead," said Eugene. "We will do everything we can to avoid the class rate changing."
In new business, the aldermen approved a supplemental agreement for construction services with HW Lochner, Inc. The supplemental agreement, which covers engineering and inspection services for a project that will seal the airport runway, will cost $18,105.94.
In August, the council approved a $14,800 agreement for engineering services for the project. The supplemental agreement will increase the total cost for engineering services to $32,905.94.
The aldermen also approved a $98,274.58 bid from Bishops Construction, Co., Inc., of Marionville, for the airport improvement project. Other bids received included: $106,424.06, Vance Brothers, Inc., of Kansas City; and $120,684.17, McConnell and Associates Corp., of Kansas City.
The engineer's estimate for the project was $162,419.70. The project will be paid for using a 95/5 matching grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation-Aviation Division.
In other business, the Cassville City Council:
* Approved a $16,150 purchase order to Reavis Water Well, of Crane, for maintenance and improvements at public works station #3.
* Heard that the city will receive a $796 reimbursement on premium fees for property and liability insurance through Willis Insurance, Inc.
* Approved a $11,300 purchase order to Seven Valley Construction, of Cassville, for a pressure reducing valve that was placed in Southern Hills.
* Heard that students from Missouri State University have started a planning project for a farmers' market that could be established in Cassville.
* Approved a $9,626.50 purchase order from Frazier Oil Co., of Gower, for aviation fuel.
* Heard that the condemned house located at 1008 Main St. has been purchased and will likely be demolished.
* Approved health insurance through Anthem Blue Preferred, life and dental insurance through KCL Life and vision insurance through Assurant Vision. The dental and vision plans and any dependent life insurance coverage are paid 100 percent by employees who elect coverage.