Next spring customers hooked onto Richmond’s sewer system will see an increase in their bills.
Starting April 1, 2009, rates will increase by 5.5 percent across the board.
The increase didn’t pass with ease as it took a yes vote by Mayor Lance Green to pass the increase 5-4.
A public hearing was held before the regular city council meeting Wednesday night, but was sparsely attended and no one gave any opinions from the public or the council.
Last month when the council failed to get enough votes to increase water rates, many people from the public spoke out against the rates. Some residents pointed to a Missouri Municipal League study that showed Richmond as having one of the higher rates among towns that were surveyed, however, Green said at the time he read the study differently.
Councilman Dave Powell, who owns and operates many rental properties in Richmond, didn’t support the water rate increase and didn’t support a sewer increase either.
“I’m opposed to any tax or rate increase as bad as the economy is,” Powell said.
He said he’s not opposed to a future increase if it means obtaining grant funding for a South Waste Water plant. Additionally, he thinks the $90,000 budgeted for sewer-line repairs is enough to get through the next year. Along with Powell, council members Beverly Gorham, Tom Williams and Tammy Folvarcik voted against the increase.
Councilman Scott Marshall supported the water and sewer increases. Marshall said he believes sewer line repairs and the South Plant are two separate issues and he believes the sewer-line problems are too extensive not to address.
“For us to get ahead of our sewer problem issues, I think it would be irresponsible to not do at least some sort of an adjustment,” Marshall said.
City Administrator Rick Childers said the $90,000 budgeted for line repairs and replacement is an adjusted number. When the water increase failed, city staff removed any increase revenue from the budget for water and sewer. He said revenue increases in sewer were taken out of the sewer budget in anticipation of the increase failing. Childers said the budget would be amended in April to reflect the increase in revenue.
Marshall, along with Childers and city engineers met with residents in the Wilson/McKinley area to discuss the city’s first installment of addressing stormwater issues. Marshall said the meeting with about a dozen residents was productive in getting input. Another meeting will be scheduled in the next month or so to update the residents.
In other actions:
The council overwhelmingly voted down an increase in the deposit renters will have to pay in order to get water service turned on.
Richmond resident and rental property owner Jim Rippy spoke out against the increase. He said he had spoken to several landlords in the city and most said they were more concerned about an increase.
“Do vote for the increase in water deposits, if you desire for renters to not live in Richmond,” Rippy said.
Powell agreed with Rippy, saying that he has only had one or two problems in the last 10 years with a renter.
Councilwoman Melissa Miller was the only person to vote yes. Miller said she thinks $200 is a ridiculous amount to pay, but that a family could rack up more than $300 in water bills before a shut-off can be issued.