Eric Walsh from Baker Tilly had appeared before the city council in August discussing the city’s multi-year plan. In the report there were several different options of reducing costs and raising revenues to help out the General Fund. Walsh said, “In the report the General Fund was the one anticipating the most issues financially over the next five years.”
For more than 30 years property taxes have funded the hydrant rental and the expense is a transfer from the general fund to the water utility. This expense is approximately $240,000 annually. Walsh said residential customers with 5/8th and 3/4th inch water lines would see a new charge on their utility bill in the amount of $3.49 for hydrant rental. Commercial customers will also see a charge but it is dependent on the meter size and not usage. His example was a 2-inch meter would see a new charge of $27.92 monthly.
Walsh told the Common Council the change would be an increase on the water utility bill but it also free-up the $240,000 in the general fund to be used for other purposes.
The second ordinance pertains to storm water bills that are currently included on city utility bills. While customers currently are paying $2.05 per month for residential service the ordinance proposed to increase that amount to $5.00. This fee was instituted in the early 2000’s and hasn’t been changed.
This increase would help the general fund because it is currently paying approximately $180,000 annually in storm water/sewage cost. Walsh said, “By instituting this raise in the storm water fee you can move those costs out of the general fund to the sewage works and this fee would pay those additional costs.”
These two ordinances could free up $400,000 to $450,000 in the city’s general fund each year.
Councilman Don Ecker asked for a comparison of other cities or towns in the area and also with cities with similar population in the state. Walsh said he would provide those details to the council.
Councilman Greg Compton asked if the increase would show up on the monthly utility bills and Walsh said yes but the storm water fee is already on the bill, it would just be an increase while the hydrant fee would be a new item on the bill.
Councilman Duane Culp asked if the water graduated rate increase implemented when Del Monte and Dean Pickle left the city had been completed and City Attorney Sean Surrisi said it has been fully implemented.
Councilman Jeff Houin asked if the utility departments would be fully funded by user fees and Clerk/Treasurer Jeanine Xaver said, “These are the only funds coming from the civil city.” Utility Supervisor Donnie Davidson confirmed her statement.
City ordinances heard on first reading are not voted on. The Plymouth City Council will consider both ordinances at their next meeting on November 9th.