Purdy adjusts water, sewer rates

Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Dan Musgrove, right, took the oath of office to become the new city council member in Purdy. Musgrove took the oath of office from Mayor Bo Prock. Murray Bishoff/Cassville Democrat

Dan Musgrove named to fill West Ward alderman’s post

A month of unveiling the long feared raises in water and sewer rates, the Purdy City Council last week approved the increases needed to pay for the improvements that captured the focus of city leaders for years.

First, however, the council returned to full strength after the resignation a month ago of West Ward Alderman Austin Hammen. Dan Musgrove, formerly of Monett who has lived in Purdy for the past three years, was the only person attending interviews for the position the previous week. No candidates came forward this week. While not having held previous elected posts, Musgrove described his volunteer work with the American Legion, up to the state level.

The rate increases generated some public comment. Mayor Bo Prock noted previous city councils failed to update rates on an annual basis, as the Missouri Department of Natural Resources recommends, leading up to the present. Clerk Debbie Redshaw recounted how one leading citizen called to characterize the increases as “ridiculous,” but added, “We all knew this was coming.”

The water rate ordinance set the minimum at $25 for the first 1,000 gallons and $5 for each subsequent 1,000 gallons for residents of the city. Out-of-town rates rose to $46 for the first 1,000 gallons and $10 for each subsequent 1,000 gallons, in essence doubling in price. Fees for delinquent payments rose to $5, a doubling of the charge from the fee in place 30 years ago. A reconnect fee for disconnected services was set at $100.

Added to the ordinance was a new deposit schedule. Redshaw noted the purpose of the deposit is to cover the final month of service should a customer leave town without resolving accounts. Deposits, which had also not changed in years, rose to $100 for homeowners and $150 for renters.

Sewer rates, where increases were expected to pay for the new sewer pipeline to Monett, rose to comparable rates: $25 for the first 1,000 gallons and $5 for subsequent 1,000 gallons for homeowners, and $46 for the first 1,000 gallons for out-of-town water customers interested in hooking onto the sewer system, plus $10 for each subsequent 1,000 gallons. The city previously had no out-of-town rates for sewer use. Late fees, reconnect charges and deposits all matched the new water rates.

Redshaw said she and Assistant Clerk Terri Garrision developed a handout chart to show customers how the new rates would translate into their personal use. Copies are available at Purdy City Hall.

To cover the cost of the pipeline and corresponding system upgrades, the city spent approximately $2.8 million after receiving approval from voters to spend up to $4 million. To secure federal aid, city leaders had to raise sewer rates to the national average of 2 percent of the median income. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program loaned the city $758,000.

The repayment plan, Redshaw said, will cover interest only for the first two years, then double at payments on the principle begin. The city is scheduled to make 33 payments of $32,693 a year, which breaks down to $1,469 a month for the first two years, then $2,732.42 per month thereafter. She noted the interest rate assessed on the city came in at a quarter of a percent lower than expected.

Prior to the rate increase, Redshaw said sewer rates generated only enough to cover payments to Monett, leaving nothing to pay down the debt. She thought that by the end of the year the new rates would have had enough time to show how they cover costs. Prock held out the possibility that if rates perform well, the council may be able to slightly lower fees.

In the bills for the month were final charges for building the sewer pipeline to Monett by Rosetta Construction, totaling $143,552. Engineering bills for Allgeier, Martin and Associates, though expected to continue at a lower rate, came to $25,752.40. Prock said the city will now shift its focus with its engineers on reducing the inflow and infiltration that allows stormwater runoff into the sanitary sewer system, triggering overage charges in the monthly bills from Monett.

Sue Bacorn, administrator for the city of the grant process, could finally receive payment at the close of the project. Her bill came to $52,000 for work that covered the past 10 years.

In other business, aldermen opened bids and sold old equipment, having purchased a new tractor and mower. Nhia Yang of the Fairview area was the high bidder for the city’s old Case tractor at $2,000. Cristobal Ibarra of Purdy bought the eight-foot brushhog for $1,500. Tom’s Excavating of rural Granby bought the small brushhog for $600.

At the recommendation of City Attorney Darlene Parrigon, the council adopted an ordinance declaring it was the obligation of property owners to maintain mowing on city or state right-of-way on their properties. The ordinance has foundation in state statutes and a court ruling. The city of Monett recently adopted a similar ordinance. A new fine schedule for municipal court was also adopted, mandated by state law.

Council members approved paying to send Purdy Fire Chief Rick Mercer to training as the city’s emergency management director.

Public Works foreman Lonnie Lowery expected several contractors to visit the city shortly to review how to convert the community building into a new city hall. Prock planned to schedule a forum with those contractors at the August monthly meeting to advance that project.

In department reports, Police Chief Jackie Lowe reported his department is now using a new summary system to submit incident reports on monthly cases to the Missouri State Highway Patrol. Use of the new system will be mandated in 2021.

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