City of Cassville raises water, sewer rates by 2.2 percent

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Hike in rates will boost asset replacement funds

The city of Cassville is handing out a 2.2 percent hike for residential and commercial water and sewer rates, aiming to boost the respective departments' asset replacement funds.

The base water service rate for residential customers, which was $11.36 for the first 1,000 gallons of water used, will now raise by a quarter to $11.61. For every 1,000 gallons used over the base amount, a fee of $3.70 per 1,000 gallons will be applied.

For customers outside the city limits and for commercial customers with 1-inch or 2-inch meters, the base rate of $23.74 was raised by 52 cents to $24.26. For every 1,000 gallons used over the base amount, a fee of $3.70 per 1,000 gallons will be applied.

For commercial customers with 3-inch or 4-inch meters, the base rate of $29.41 is now 65 cents higher, at $30.06. For every 1,000 gallons used over the base amount, a fee of $3.70 per 1,000 gallons will be applied.

According to city records, there are 1,734 residential accounts, 63 residential accounts outside city limits, 90 commercial accounts with 1-inch or 2-inch meters and five accounts with 3-inch or 4-inch meters.

For the sewer department, the minimum charge each month rose from $8.26 to $8.44. For every 1,000 gallons used after the base rate, a charge of $6.67 will be applied. This hike applies to both residential and commercial customers.

According to city records, there are 1,424 total accounts.

According to Steve Walensky, public works director, the water and sewer hikes combined are expected to generate about $27,000 in new money during 2015, basing the prediction off of 2014's usage numbers.

Walensky said 80 percent of Cassville's water customers use about 5,000 gallons per month, which will mean a hike of about $1.53 for each of those customers each month, or $18.36 per year.

Alderman Terry Heinz requested that all proceeds from the hikes, both in the water and sewer rates, go to the respective asset replacement funds.

Walensky said the asset replacement fund for the water department has dropped to $11,422.36, and the sewer asset replacement fund is at about $34,631.54.

Walensky said the water department figure dropped so low because of more than $24,000 in unexpected repairs to well No. 4 last year.

"We'd like those funds to be as high as they can be because you never know what may fail," he said. "In 2011, well No. 2 went out and we spent $52,000 on that. When things break or fail, it can be catastrophic, and repairs are expensive. So, we like to have that money there just in case."

Walensky said the replacement funds were empty up until 2012, when he pushed for money to be siphoned off of water and sewer rates to boost the funds.

"Before I got here, there was a run-to-failure philosophy for everything, and I've brought a different perspective to how we run things," he said. "Now, we have our wells tested by a private agency each year, and it was them that found the issue with well No. 4 last year. That repair bill would have doubled if we had not found that issue as soon as we did."

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