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Harmony City Council Report: Council discusses utility rate increases

Fri, Nov 17th, 2006
Posted in Government

The Harmony City Council reviewed utility rate increases at their November 14 meeting. The city's utility committee recommended increasing the water, sewer and garbage fund to keep up with costs and debt. These increases will be around 8% for an average household and would go into effect on the January 1st bill.

Council member Mark McKay stated that he had been asked by families that live in the city why these rates must rise and how often the council planned to raise rates in the future. Council member Jerry Shuck replied that these increases were necessary - for approximately 15 years utility rates had not risen. Because of this, funding for these services are severely behind in terms of costs and debt. For example, last year approximately $40,000 was taken from the city's general fund to cover these costs. The city has a plan to slowly raise rates so that these costs can be self-covering - once that is accomplished the city will stop raising utility rates. The rate table shows suggested increases.

Current / Proposed

Base, Usage / Base, Usage

Water $5.50, $3.25/1,000 / $7.50, $3.50/1,000

Sewer $15.50, $6.50/1,000 / $17.50, $6.75/1,000

Garbage/Recycle $4.50, $4.50 / $4.75, $4.75

Sump Pump Ordinance Questions

Harmony resident, Gary Ehler, addressed the council concerning a letter he received from the city regarding the new sump-pump ordinance. He wanted to know if the way the water is drained in his basement was out of compliance with the ordinance. Chris Johnson, City Maintenance, responded that Ehler's drainage was fine and that the ordinance was put in place to stop deliberate pumping into the sewer system when rainwater could be pumped out onto lawns. Ehler then questioned the number of new housing developments in the city and their tile drainage systems. He asked if the city was going to regulate where their water goes and if it is pumped. The council said yes; that these developments should be inspected/regulated and that they plan on developing a regulation this summer.

EDA Loan

The council reviewed an EDA loan application from Jeremy Kruegel to renovate office space. The loan is for $12,000 with 4% interest. The office building will provide space for four offices - one is already leased and there is significant interest in another. Council member Sherry Hines also stated that additional office space has been recognized as a need for the city. The council moved and approved the loan

Chris Johnson

Chris Johnson, City Maintenance, reported that he had passed the Class B Wastewater Treatment state test. Johnson will now prepare for a state bio-salts test. As Johnson passes these tests he will become certified to operate and repair the city's wastewater treatment facility - saving the city money that would be spent hiring these services out. The council congratulated Johnson and wished him well on his upcoming test.

Other Updates & Business

• Approved the lease agreement for Historic Bluff Country, Inc. office space.

• Learned that the wastewater treatment facility is running well and has met all permits.

• Passed revisions to the city's health insurance program for employees that would slightly raise costs but at the same time raise deductibles and cut benefits.

• Approved resolution agreements for Minnesota Department of Transportation snow removal services, state aid for increased Regional Library Basic System Support and certified the results of the municipal general election.

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