The Greenbush city council mentioned how it’s great that people are conserving water, but that it is causing the council to look at increasing 2018 water service rates for both residential and commercial properties to help balance the city’s water fund. The city proposed increasing these rates by $3.50 per month during its November 20 meeting.
“Is $3.50 enough for people to get upset?”, Greenbush Mayor Brenda Sather asked her fellow council members.
Council member Christine Foss answered yes, but later added that, no matter if the city raised it by 50 cents or $5, it would hear something from someone. Council member Scott Waage agreed.
“Any change is hard for people,” Waage said.
Mayor Sather emphasized how the city has to balance this fund. She later mentioned how going in the negative is a governmental accounting “no-no.”
Currently, the Greenbush residential monthly minimum water service rate sits at $21.40 and the commercial at $21.40 multiplied by EDU (Equivalent Dwelling Unit). With the suggested $3.50 increase, both these rates would increase to a $24.90 monthly minimum. Under both current city rates, the first 1,000 gallons are free, but then it increases to $4.30 per 1,000 for 1,001 to 6,000 gallons of usage, $6.30 per 1,000 for 6,001 to 10,000 gallons, and $9.30 for $10,001 gallons and up.
The city water usage decrease has influenced the projected decline in the city’s water fund. Besides the $3.50 per month increase, the city would transfer $5,000 for fire protection from the general fund to help balance the water fund.
Mayor Sather discussed possibly lowering this rate increase. If the council did this, Sather said, the city would have to take more funds from the general fund, such as $6,000, and funds from the fire protection fee. Sather thought that the council, if it were to lower this increase, it should go no less than $1.75 to $2.00.
The city didn’t officially approve any rate, but, Sather said, this was something for the city to think about moving forward. She also requested City Clerk Anita Locken to bring forth water rates for Badger, Roseau and Karlstad to use as comparisons at the next meeting.
To see the full report from this city council meeting, read the November 22 issue of The Tribune in print or online.