The Cassville City Council approved water and sewer rate increases on Monday night. Additional revenue collected through the rate increase will be used to boost reserve funding for maintenance, repairs and improvements on the city's water and wastewater systems.
Mayor Bill Shiveley opened the public hearing for the utility rate increases by reading a prepared statement he shared with the council in October.
"No one likes to see water and wastewater rates increase, but council has the responsibility to periodically review and adjust rates to ensure that the rates being charged for water and sewer are adequately providing the revenue needed to meet the debt service obligations as well as provide funding for operations, maintenance and replacement of our aging infrastructure," said Shiveley. "Unlike the general fund, which is funded by general sales tax revenue, the water and wastewater departments are funded through the user fees or rates charged for water and wastewater treatment.
"Because small annual or biennial adjustments are easier to handle and budget for by the consumer than a large adjustment all at one time, council has determined that it will review the rates being charged for water and wastewater annually to determine if an adjustment is needed," added Shiveley. "Council has successfully taken steps over the last year to control expenditures."
Cost-cutting measures have included: decreasing the city's fee in lieu, which is similar to a franchise fee, from 5 percent to 2 percent; establishing a revised system for accounting for man hours worked by each employee to more accurately account for time worked in each department; and using city staff for maintenance and repair of equipment and city-owned facilities.
The approved rate change will increase the base rate for residential water from $11 to $11.19 per month and the usage rate from $3.25 to $3.51 per 1,000 gallons. The base sewer rate will increase from $8 to $8.14 per month and the sewer usage rate will increase from $5.98 to $6.28 per 1,000 gallons.
Utility rates for residential customers who live inside the city limits and use an average of 5,000 gallons of water each month will increase $3.63 per month.
The base rate for water users who live outside the city limits will also increase slightly, from $23 to $23.39, and the usage rate for customers outside the city limits will increase from $6.55 to $6.86 per 1,000 gallons.
Base rates for commercial 1 and 2 customers will increase from $23 to $23.39 per month, and base rates for commercial 3 and 4 customers will increase from $28.50 to $28.98 per month.
After approving a $750-per-month bid from Jon Elkins and Company for cleaning services, an alum bid from Watermark, of Ozark, and a $75,723.83 bid from RTS Water Solutions for water meter installation, the aldermen discussed a bid from MDC Technology for website hosting and maintenance services.
Currently, the city is paying Wannenmacher Advertising $300 per year for website hosting and maintenance and $75 per hour for troubleshooting services. MDC Technology submitted a bid for $359.88 per year for hosting and $59 per hour for troubleshooting services.
Noelle Harmon, city clerk, contacted GoDaddy.com, which the city's current domain name, www.cityofcassville.com, is currently secured through. GoDaddy.com will provide website hosting services at a fee of $382 for five years. The cost includes unlimited disk space, unlimited databases, unlimited domains, 1,000 email addresses, security certificate and 24-hour-a-day, seven-days-a-week tech support at no additional charge.
The backup of the website files would need to be completed in-house on the city's server. There would be no cost to move the website files because those services would be completed by city staff members.
Harmon recommended the city proceed with GoDaddy.com for website hosting. Training for website administration can be completed online through Northwest Arkansas Community College at a cost of $159 for a six-week course.
Aldermen Ann Hennigan and Darrell Ledenham voted to utilize GoDaddy.com for website hosting services without training. Aldermen Terry Heinz and Jeff Parsons opposed the motion. Shiveley broke the tie by voting to approve services provided by GoDaddy.com with the requirement that the council review the contract before entering into an agreement with the business.
In other business, the Cassville City Council:
* Approved the second reading of an ordinance for waste collection and disposal services through Allied Waste Services and the second reading of an ordinance that eliminates phantom water meters.
* Approved a contract with the Cassville YMCA for administration of recreational programs. The contract mirrors the agreement approved earlier this year. Free swim days will be held on July 4, 2013, and on the last day of the 2013 swim season.
* Discussed the need for an addressing policy. Ledenham, Hennigan and Darelyn Cooper, city finance officer, will work together to create a draft policy.
* Approved personnel policy revisions, which will allow staff members to receive overtime pay for overtime hours instead of comp time. The changes also impact sick leave and vacation time.
* Voted to pay $3,069.45 for overtime hours collected this year. By paying employees for the overtime hours, all staff members will begin 2013 without accumulated comp time hours.
* Approved a letter of engagement with Decker and DeGood for 2012 audit services.