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Motion to raise wastewater rates dies for lack of second

A motion to increase wastewater utility rates died for a lack of a second at the Glencoe City Council’s Tuesday, Feb. 20 meeting.
The council met on Tuesday because of the Presidents Day holiday on Monday, Feb. 19.
The proposed increases were recommended to help build up funds for the proposed $22.35 million improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
Karen Cavett of Short Elliott Hendrickson (SEH), Inc., the city’s engineering firm, said that a possible $7 million Point Source Implementation Grant (PSIG) hinged on the city adopting a rate structure that will help repay low-interest loans for financing the upgrades.
Cavett said that while no one likes to raise rates, “in order to get this funding through, we have to do it.”
“So, if we don’t have a payment structure in place …” said Mayor Randy Wilson.
“You won’t get the grant,” confirmed Cavett.
The grant, if awarded, will pay for roughly a third of the proposed upgrades.
Currently, the service fee — a base rate — is $9 per month and the usage fee is $7.25 per 1,000 gallons of wastewater. The average monthly bill for Glencoe residents, based on average of 3,400 gallons monthly, is currently $33.65 per month.
SEH is proposing raising rates each year for the next three years. For 2018, the proposed service fee is $16.70 per month and the usage fee is $9 per 1,000 gallons, for a total average bill of $47.30, an average increase of $13.65 monthly per household.
In 2019, the service fee would be raised to $24.35 monthly, the usage fee to $9.50 per 1,000 gallons, for an average monthly wastewater bill of $56.55, with an average increase of $9.35 per month.
The proposed rates for 2020 include a $28 per month service fee and $10 per 1,000 gallons, for an average monthly wastewater bill of $62 per month, an average increase of $5.35 per month per household.
Although the increases appear hefty, Cavett presented a chart that showed Glencoe at the low end of 12 surrounding and comparable cities for its 2017 rates. Even at its peak increase proposed for 2020, Cavett noted that Glencoe’s wastewater fees and rates would rank fifth among those 12 cities. Cavett pointed out that Glencoe’s proposed 2020 rates were compared to those cities’ 2018 rates.
“We don’t know what those cities plan to do with their rates in the future,” said Cavett.
Cities included in the comparison were Belle Plaine, Jordan, Pipestone, Montgomery, Litchfield, St. James, Brownton, Delano, Clear Lake/Clearwater, New Prague and Waldorf.
For more about the proposed rate changes, see the Feb. 28 print edition of The Chronicle.