Proposed New City Budget Includes Increases in Water and Sewer Rates

June 8, 2010
by: 
Dwayne Page

Water and sewer rates for Smithville customers will increase with the passage of the 2010-11 city budget if the spending plan is adopted in it's current form.

The proposed budget, totaling $5-million 642-thousand 574, has been prepared by Secretary-Treasurer Hunter Hendrixson and the city's financial consultant, Janice Plemmons-Jackson. The document was presented by Mayor Taft Hendrixson to each of the five aldermen Monday.

Members of the council have not yet met to discuss the budget and could make revisions before any final action is taken. The new fiscal year begins July first and normally the budget is approved by that date. The aldermen could adopt a continuing budget resolution if they don't meet the deadline. The city's budget ordinance has to be adopted on two separate readings before it can take effect.

City officials say the water and sewer fund is currently running in the red and if that continues two years in a row, the state will adjust the rates if the city doesn't act. The state requires municipal water and sewer systems to be financially self supporting. City leaders say Smithville has not raised water rates since 1998.

According to the proposed new budget, the city's water and sewer fund is projected to finish the year on June 30th, 2010 in the red by $306,464. A major reason for that is apparently because the city is required to take into account depreciation which amounts to $100,000 for the water and $260,000 for the sewer operation. City officials say metered water sales are also projected to be down by $17,000 by the end of the fiscal year, June 30th. Under the proposed 2010-11 budget, the city is still projected to be in the red by $154,993 on June 30th, 2011, even with the proposed rate increases, unless cost savings are implemented during the year.

Under the proposed new budget, the rate for city water customers would increase from the current level of $3.50 to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus a $1.50 increase from the current rate of $3.50 to $5.00 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage. Outside city rates would increase to $7.50 for the first one thousand gallons of water usage plus $7.50 for each additional one thousand gallons of usage

The rate for city sewer customers, under the new budget, would increase from the current level of $3.62 for a flat usage rate to $5.00 for the first one thousand gallons of usage plus a $1.75 cent increase from the current rate of $3.25 to $5.00 per thousand gallons thereafter.

For example, city water customers who use 4,000 gallons per month would pay $40.00 per month plus tax, including $20.00 for water and $20.00 for sewer. The simplest calculation is to add $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage per month for water and sewer:

(4,000 gallons per month @ $5.00 per thousand= $20.00 for water bill)

( 4,000 gallons per month @ $5.00 per thousand =$20.00 for sewer bill)

The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District for water is $1.90 per thousand gallons but would increase to $1.95 beginning with January 1st, 2011 sales.

Water tap fees for customers inside the city limits would jump from $400 to $600 for a three quarter inch water line and the sewer tap fee would go from $400 to $600 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, the fees will continue to be cost plus 10%.

For customers outside the city limits, water tap fees would increase from $525 to $800 for a three quarter inch line. Fees would go from $525 to $800 for a four inch sewer line. If the lines are larger, then the fees will continue to be cost plus 10%.

The new budget calls for the property tax rate to remain the same at almost 62 cents ($.6194 cents) per $100 of assessed value.

The proposed budget calls for city employees with up to four years of service to get their automatic step pay increases as defined in the wage scale and a cost of living increase of 3.4% based on the consumer price index. City employees with more than four years of service, who have topped out on the wage scale would only get the cost of living increase.

Proposed capital outlay expenditures in the general fund for the new year come to $330,000. Specific projects are as follows: Financial Administration- $20,000 unspecified; Parks and Recreation-$5,000 to pave a basketball court, $15,000 for a 1.5 mile walking trail, and $5,000 for a fence; Public Works/Buildings and Grounds- $15,000 for a trailer; City Hall Building - $25,000; Fire Protection- $15,000 unspecified; Street Department- $20,000 including $10,000 for downtown beautification and $10,000 unspecified; Police Department- $15,000 unspecified; Swimming Pool- $10,000 unspecified; Airport- $200,000 including $190,000 for grant projects completion and $10,000 unspecified; Animal Shelter- $5,000 unspecified; Sanitation Fund- $5,000 and Drug Fund- $5,000 unspecified.

Proposed water and sewer fund Fixed Asset Additions: Automatic meter readers project- $360,000; update of water plant and engineering fees- $2,700,000; sewer rehabilitation camera $125,000; Debt repayment-principal: bonds- $233,560.

Although these capital outlay projects are budgeted, they all may not be funded during the year.

The proposed budget breaks down as follows:

REVENUES:
General Fund: $3,022,500
Special Revenue Fund-Sanitation: $277,350
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,141,808
Drug Fund: $5,250
Appropriation of Surplus-Drug Fund: $34,000
Appropriation of Surplus-Water & Sewer Fund: $154,993
Appropriation of Surplus- Sanitation Fund: $6,673

Total Revenues: $5,642,574

EXPENDITURES:
General Fund: $3,014,570
Special Revenue Funds Sanitation: $284,023
Water & Sewer Fund: $2,296,801
Drug Fund: $39,250
Surplus in General Fund: $7,930

Total expenditures: $5,642,574

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