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Henrietta may be forced to raise water, sewer rates

The City of Henrietta may have found some temporary solutions to some big problems, but the Missouri Department of Natural Resources isn’t helping.
DNR has mandated that the town inspect and paint the city’s water tower which will cost the already cash-strapped city about $35,000. DNR has mandated that the inspection and work be completed by Dec. 31 of this year.
DNR scheduled a meeting with Henrietta yesterday that was attended by Richmond and Henrietta staff members, but no one from DNR attended. Henrietta City Clerk Margie Long contacted DNR and said that they told her “they forgot.” She also said DNR officials told her it would be weeks before another meeting could be scheduled.
The problem is, Henrietta has run out of time to do the necessary repairs to the water tower because of weather. Henrietta held off from doing the repairs in anticipation of working out a deal with Richmond for water service and to avoid unwanted extra expenses.
Richmond and Henrietta officials were seeking permission to temporarily by-pass the city’s water tower until next spring when the repairs can be made.
“It doesn’t matter whether we have that kind of money or not,” Long told some concerned residents. “DNR said it has to be done.”
Infiltration problems to the city’s sewer system from stormwater runoff and unpredictable repairs to some city lift stations has left city funding stressed and to the breaking point. Last month ,Henrietta Board of Aldermen voted to transfer half of the city’s savings into the general fund just to pay the sewer bill through August. A couple of six-inch rains this summer cost the city thousands of dollars.
Long told board members Saturday that city staff checked manholes during the rain last week and many of them are leaking. One manhole is located in a field east of Casey’s General Store, but cannot be located. Also, former Waller Trucking employees have been washing their trucks and using the sewer system adding to the problem Long said.
Long said a public hearing will have to be scheduled for next month because sewer and water rates need to be increased. Last spring when Richmond raised sewer rates, Henrietta officials held off from raising rates to see if the city could get by but the circumstances have changed.
“Because of infiltration, our money didn’t hold real well and because of breakdowns our money didn’t hold,” Long said. “Short of a miracle, we need to raise our rates.”
Long said rates need to be raised soon just to catch up. Current rates for sewer are $18.56 for a base rate and $11.00 per 1,000 gallons. She said the rate needs to increase to $20.52 for the base rate and $12.61 per 1,000 gallons. Next April when Richmond’s rates for sewer go up again, she said that number will have to jump to $20.92 for a base rate and $13.01 per 1,000. Long said both sewer and water need to be raised on a yearly basis by about 4 percent to keep up.
Long reported that water rates need to be raised as well. She said the current rate needs to jump from $6.49 to $7.15 for the base rate and from $7.57 to $7.88 per 1,000.
Henrietta will hold a public hearing next month on Nov. 15.
City officials discussed keeping the city’s water plant online for commercial use for agriculture only. DNR said once the city hooks onto the Richmond system it cannot be used for drinking.

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