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No increase in water rates to come

by Dolores Hamilton
There will not be an increase in water rates this year. After learning at their last meeting that the city would have to go up on water rates this year, City Manager Jerry Flemming had good news for city council members at their budget workshop on Monday. “When we balanced the budget last week, we were able to do it without any water increase,” Flemming said. “So the budget that we’re showing you here does not include a rate increase for water service for most of our customers.”
Flemming said there are going to be changes in wholesale water rates, and a 50-cent increase in sewer rates that will help pay for needed infrastructure.
He said they had balanced, very tight budgets and proposed that the current tax rate of $.76 stay the same. The amount of taxes collected will go up based on the appraisal district’s values that will increase revenues about $30,000.
Council members, city manager, and department heads went through the proposed budget and discussed expenditures including vehicle and equipment, proposed capital outlays, unfunded requests, potential capital improvement projects, and budgets for each department.
While going over potential capital improvement projects, the need for a new public safety (police, fire, and dispatch) facility came up. The problems such as flooding, electrical issues and lack of space have been discussed by the council many times in the past. “This is something we need to consider letting our voters look at,” said Councilman Tim Sheppard. “The police and fire stations are falling apart - literally.”
The other council members agreed, and Councilwoman Sherrie Williams said, “We’ve been tip toeing around this for years.”
Flemming said they would need a bond election to cover the cost of construction. He said he would work on the resolution required to get the project started and get it on an agenda for the council to vote on.
The municipal swimming pool and spray park will close for the season on August 20. For the remainder of the season, the council voted to reduce the daily fee from $5 to $3 and have a special “Tuesday Dollar Day,” where the fee is $1 per person.