Seligman hosts hearing to discuss rates

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On Dec. 15, the Seligman City Council hosted a public hearing to discuss a water and sewer rate increase. Around a dozen community members attended the hearing, which offered a 20-minute Power Point presentation on the city's capital needs and the proposed rate increases.

According to the presentation, the city currently faces the challenges of an aging infrastructure, increasing expenses, new regulations and a need for higher water capacity and quality.

The presentation outlined the 10-year capital needs for the water system, which are estimated to cost around $11,544,566. Those needs include: water connection construction; water meter replacement; a well chlorination project; and well, water mains and hydrants replacement projects.

The city's sewer system capital needs were estimated to cost around $3,125,000 over the next five years. The plan calls for lining 350,000 square feet of sewer line, rehabilitating manholes and upgrading the irrigation system.

The city also faces rising costs associated with personnel, equipment, materials, fuel and outsourcing services.

Currently, 599 utility users are Seligman residents and 22 users are commercial customers. The average monthly bill for a resident who lives inside the city limits and uses 5,000 gallons of water is $46.90. This includes trash services. Utility rates have not been increased for three years.

The city has proposed the following increases to water and sewer rates:

* The base rate, which includes the first 2,000 gallons of usage, will increase from $23.98 to $28.50.

* The water usage rate will increase from $1.80 per 1,000 gallons to $2.25 per 1,000 gallons.

* The sewer usage rate will increase from $2.84 per 1,000 gallons to $5.00 per 1,000 gallons.

The proposed rates will increase the average user's 5,000-gallon utility bill from $12.35 per month to $59.25. This includes a $9 charge for sewer services.

The presentation was created by Alderman Eric Freeman. The council answered several questions after the presentation.

During their regularly scheduled meeting, which was held after the public hearing, the aldermen decided to continue discussing the proposed rate increase over the next few months.

The council also heard an update on the Shop With a Cop Program. A total of 18 children were selected for this year's program. Kids had the opportunity to shop at the Seligman Dollar General store with officers on Dec. 17.

Each child received $100 to spend on gifts for themselves and their families. Several local businesses and individuals donated to the successful program this year.

In other business, the Seligman City Council:

* Reviewed the maintenance reports.

* Received an update on code enforcement. Violations are being photographed for documentation and prosecution.

* Reviewed the library report, which showed the facility lost $555.95 during the month of November.

* Received an update on the city's adult education program.

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