Talking Trash and Carrying Water at City Hall
The city's more or less shut down till Tuesday, what with a furlough day and Memorial Day on the schedule. Which is why City Hall has early-posted its Wednesday council briefing agendas on two subjects near and dear to every citizen: water and trash. At least one of 'em is gonna cost more next fiscal year; maybe both. Depends. Hard to say.
Water utilities for sure: City Manager Mary Suhm needs $541,073,815 in the coming fiscal year to keep the lawn nice and green, and that includes five significant capital improvement projects (pipeline replacement and pump-station improvements chief among 'em). Problem is, she's only got $523,073,834 projected to come in, which means a guesstimated shortfall of $17,999,981.
And that will necessitate a rate increase of 4.2 percent, or an average of $2.21 tacked on to every monthly bill, which Suhm says is still well below the Environmental Protection Agency's affordability guidelines that say your water bill should be no more than 2 percent of the median household income.
But look at Page 14: "Future Outlook: Rate Increases." This appears to be the beginning of rate hikes, which will grow even more substantial in coming years.
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On the other hand ...
The sanitation services fee looks, initially, headed toward a decline for the second year in a row -- this time by a whole three pennies, from $20.34 on average to $20.31. According to the briefing, that's due, sort of, to the money saved from the move to OneDay trash pick-up. The proposed rate is a whole 67 cents lower than the fee two fiscal years ago, incidentally, when a massive hike was necessitate by the rise in gas prices.
Only, there's one problem -- five, actually: Among other issues, the proposed rate doesn't take into account creating an emergency storm fund to offset the more-than-a-mil paid to private contractors to clear the February snowstorm mess, and it doesn't give garbage collectors the meager raise that's been talked about for years. Maybe next year.
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