I want to publically thank Cassville City Council members Jeff Parsons, Terry Heinz, Bill Hill and Darrell Ledenham for seeking a compromise on the water and sewer rates that were initially proposed. On Monday night, the council entertained an amended resolution and voted to decrease the proposed rate increase to a more moderate percentage, offering relief to economically stressed city residents and businesses. Under the initial proposal, rates would have more than doubled for a large number of users and produced a large surplus of money (almost a half a million dollars) beyond the amount needed for the water system to support itself. The amended proposal covers the anticipated costs to operate the water system, which we believe is the perfect place to start.
The city has plans to install new water meters to replace faulty or malfunctioning meters in the coming year, which should produce cost savings for the city. There has also been some discussion of possibly hiring an engineer to do an independent, comprehensive study of the city's water system, which would provide city leaders with a more precise understanding of the system's long-term needs and a detailed road map for future improvement and growth. We would love to see the city develop three-year, five-year and 10-year capital improvement plans for the sewer and water systems with specific costs attached. With these plans in place, the need for future rate hikes would be better justified, budgeted for and more palatable to city residents.
The council's willingness to suspend action on the first proposed rate increase and reconsider a more moderate approach is commendable, and I hope I am not the only one who extends thanks to the aldermen for their actions. To me, their decision to find a well researched compromise shows our elected city leaders truly care about community input and are willing to listen to their constituents. This rate increase is the first step in establishing a positive plan for Cassville's growth and prosperity.