Purdy Council looks at sewer options

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

With negotiations continuing with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Purdy City Council members discussed options open to the city over its sewer situation.

"It's coming, there's no way out of it," said Mayor Ron Dutra at a special council meeting on March 18.

The city faces enforcement action for failure to meet increased standards for its wastewater once the new wastewater permit went into effect. Construction of a new wastewater treatment plant to meet the standards remains highly likely.

For the city to demonstrate a commitment to resolving the situation, Dutra said sewer rates will have to rise to 2 percent of the median family income. According to the 2010 Federal Census, the median income in Purdy rose from $24,000 to nearly $32,000. The average sewer rate, presently at $35 a month, or $15 for the first 1,000 gallons used and $5 for each additional 1,000 gallons, for an average 5,000 gallons used. To reach the 2 percent total, rates will have to rise to $53.50 a month to meet the threshold.

Dutra suggested phasing in an increase, beginning in July to correspond with the new fiscal year.

"If you raise rates now, you can skip a year and do another," Dutra said, speaking as an outgoing council member.

Under Dutra's recommendation, the base rate would rise by $3 for the first 1,000 gallons, or $18. The cost of the subsequent 1,000 gallons could go up by $1 to $6. Increasing the cost of additional gallons two more times, by $6 and $7, the cost for 5,000 gallons would rise to $42 a month.

Aldermen appeared resigned to the inevitability of increases. Dutra said negotiations with DNR could take as much as six months. Action by the city to implement rate increases would relieve the shock of a one-time rate hike.

Dutra will preside at the April 15 city council meeting, prior to alderman Steve Roden taking over as mayor. Council members liked the idea of acting early, but took no action. No ordinance had been prepared for consideration.

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