Plymouth Color Logo2014While the ordinances to increase the water and sewer rates in the City of Plymouth passed on 2nd  and 3rd readings, the vote went down party lines.  The three Democrats: Gary Cook, Jeff Houin and Shiloh Fonseca voted against the motion to pass the increases on 2nd  and 3rd readings while the Republicans: Duane Culp, Don Ecker, Shawn Grobe and Bill Walters voted in favor of the increases.

The Common Council conducted a public hearing Monday evening on the proposed rate increase for water and sewer customers.  That hearing that lasted about 40 minutes.  Erich Walsh from Umbaugh and Associates told the audience that Bay Valley and Del Monte makeup 23% of the total billing for sewer and 8 to 10% of the city’s water billing.  Their utility billing will be approximately an $85,000 monthly reduction in revenues when they stop production.

His figures show the average residential customer using 5,000 gallons a month would see an average monthly increase of $10.80 when all of the increases are phased in.  Walsh said even with the 12% water rate increase and phasing in a 30% sewer rate increase over 15 months the utilities will still have to dip into their reserves for $530,000.

Utility Superintendent Donnie Davidson said, “There is no easy way to go about this.  We decided to spread the impact across the board equally.”

Bill Emery lives outside the city limits but has city utilities.  He asked if any council members have taken Councilman Jeff Houin’s stance to wait and see.

Rex Crump asked if any other options were on the table to offset the raises.  He commented that those on fixed incomes and retired may have a hard time.  He also asked it Rainy Day funds could be used and if the city had any prospects to fill the buildings.

Clerk Treasurer Jeannie Xaver reminded those in the audience that the water and sewer department operate like a business with all of their revenues coming from rates and not property taxes dollars.

Al Eisenhour doesn’t live in the city but does own property in town.  He is opposed to the rate increases and suggested the water and sewer departments should “tighten their belts”.  He said the rate increase is not justified.

Mike Delp, a former city councilman said something should be implemented right away but suggested spreading the 30% sewer rate increase over 24 to 36 months instead of 15 months.

Chris Siebenhaar from Zentis said they are concerned about the impact their business the rate increases will have.  With Del Monte and Bay Valley closing, Zentis will be the city’s largest user.  He said they have already begun to look for ways to save money with their water usage.

Local resident, Krystyna Hyrczyk has only lived in Plymouth for a year.  She said the $120 increase annually will have to be worked into their family budget and was supporting of phasing in the increase.  She asked if companies move into the plants if the city would consider reducing the rate increase.

Keith Gerrard commented, “There appear to be many fixed expenses and there are not a lot of choices.”

After hearing from the public and council members voicing their thoughts the motion to pass the ordinances on 2nd and 3rd readings passed by a 4 to 3 vote.