Sewer, water rates go up for 2013
The City of Granite Falls has voted to increase sewer rates for 2013 making the cost per household $55 per month, a 10 percent increase over last year’s rates. Another 10 percent increase may also occur in 2014.
“The sewer rates were raised from $50 to $55 in 2013 as a result of a $950,000 Public Works Trust Fund Loan that was awarded to the city to pay for necessary upgrades to the electrical system at the Wastewater Treatment Plant,” Public Works Director Brent Kirk explained. “The loan repayment will be roughly $55,000 per year for the next 20 years and the revenue from the $5 per month rate increase will go towards repayment of the loan.”
Like everyone else in the country, the city is seeing their expenses rise and the $5 per month rate jump will also help cover the rising costs effecting everyone.
“Future rate increases in subsequent years were discussed as part of a long term financial plan for the city to ensure that revenues in the utility funds are adequate to cover the rising cost of expenditures over time as well as setting aside sufficient reserves for future capital expenditures, but these proposed rate increases are only a guideline and may change annually depending on numerous factors that may impact the city's budget, both positively or negatively, in the long run," Kirk said. “To date, the city council has only approved the $5 rate increase in the monthly sewer charge for 2013.”
The water utility tax also increased five percent for 2013. These increases will help cover the cost of city personnel.
Kirk explains that the utility tax increase was suggested by the state auditor’s office.
“The utility tax is going from 20 percent in 2012 to 25 percent in 2013. This tax is internal to the fund, not an external tax on top of the existing rates paid by citizens. The five percent increase is due to a shift in salary allocations based on recommendations from the state auditor,” he said. “Previously, a percentage of the salary and benefits for the city clerk and the treasurer (currently a contract position) were paid from the water and sewer fund. These positions are now funded entirely from the general fund with an additional five percent tax on the utility funds to compensate for the shift in the funding source.
So basically the same amount is being expended from the individual funds as it was with the 20 percent tax, but the way the money flows has changed.”