Stormwater at top of list of headaches in Henrietta

Budget time is never easy but it could get a lot tougher next year for Henrietta if stormwater infiltration problems are not solved this year.
As of Oct. 1 the city had paid more than $74,000 for sewer flow to Richmond, which included $2,400 for pipe cleaning and the hauling of debris. Henrietta paid about $64,000 for sewer flow for all of 2007. With three months left in the year, the city has surpassed last year’s total by more than $10,000. Between Sept. 5 and Oct. 1, the city spent more than $12,800 on sewer flow.
In September the city had to get $30,000 from a CD account to cover sewer expenses that had exceeded funding by September. The city took roughly half of the CD and City Clerk Margie Long warned some Aldermen last week the rest may need to be cashed out next year if the city doesn’t see some relief.
“We’ve only got $30,000 left in there and I bet you next year we pull it out,” Long said at a budget meeting last week. “I don’t want to get into it, but we might have to.”
Projected revenues are slightly off on the negative side as well. Long said the city has a significant amount of money owed to them on the books for delinquent water bills. The city took action last month to help curb delinquent bills by changing the structure of water shut-offs and increased reconnect fees.
“A lot of people don’t pay their bills and they leave us with money owed and we have a lot of money on the books,” Long said.
Long said she expects revenues to come in closer to projections next year. The city had planned on $107,000 in revenues but will bring in only about $93,000, according to Long’s projections.
The city will see an increase in reconnect fees, but will lose about $5,000 in penalty fees that were eliminated with the new water ordinance.
Aldermen also pledged to fix a manhole that has deteriorated to almost nothing according to Alderman Bob Duncan. The city has budgeted $8,000 the last two years to fix the hole, but has not moved forward.
The budget took a big punch in maintenance expenses to the sewer system as well. The city has spent more than $21,000 on maintenance, including two new pumps at $5,000 a piece.
The city’s budget will also see some relief from employee abuse this year, however one former employee won his unemployment dispute with the city. The city does not pay an unemployment tax, therefore they are on the hook for the cost.
The city has also recently met with the city of Richmond to discuss a discount flow rate that would free up money to fix and seal manholes. Duncan said he has identified three manholes that need attention.
The city will meet next week to hammer out the rest of the budget. The new budget year starts with the calendar year.

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