December 15, 2019

Madison utility fees, rates will increase - Daily Leader Extra : Local News

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Madison utility fees, rates will increase

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Posted: Tuesday, November 19, 2019 4:33 pm

The mayor and city commissioners continued their opposing views on Monday about raising certain fees and rates for Madison-provided utilities with split votes regarding the increases related to water, wastewater and electricity services.

The city commission passed rate increases with 3-2 votes.

Commissioners Jeremiah Corbin, Kelly Johnson and Mike Waldner voted to pass the rate increases, and Commissioner Bob Thill and Mayor Marshall Dennert voted against the increases.

Starting with increases to certain water charges, city officials requested that the monthly charges for four water-meter sizes should increase. For 5/8-inch and 3/4-inch water meters, the monthly charge would increase by $2.50 to $22.08 per month. The monthly charges for 2-inch meters would increase by $2.58 to $173.61; for 3-inch meters by $14.07 to $392.51; and for 4-inch meters by $83.93 to $725.96.

The unit rate for drinkable water would remain the same at about $2.03 per hundred cubic feet with the same surcharge of about 54 cents per hundred cubic feet. Those charges are the same for all Madison water customers.

In addition, the monthly charges issued to customers with extra water meters will rise from $14 to $15.

During discussion about the fee increases, George Lee, a Madison resident, asked how much the city expected to raise annually from the fee increases. Jennifer Eimers, city finance officer, told the commissioners and meeting attendees that the annual amount was estimated at $100,000.

Lee urged the commissioners to handle the city's finances responsibly and make certain the money is "...spent where it ought to be spent." He mentioned recent proposals to purchase a new garbage truck and new tree-stump grinder.

Corbin, the city's utilities commissioner, said municipal officials have acted responsibly with city funds.

Michael Johnson of Madison noted that Corbin had previously mentioned Madison's median income of $50,000, and Johnson said half of Madison's residents earned less than that amount.

Corbin said affordability was a basic question.

"It's difficult," Corbin said about operating the municipal utility. "What's water worth to you?"

Johnson briefly spoke about replacing some of the city's aging water infrastructure. Corbin assured city residents that Water Department revenue would help support infrastructure improvements.

The water-rate resolution passed with a 3-2 vote.

Within the resolution on electricity rates, city officials asked for a 1% increase across the board for residential, commercial and industrial customers.

Corbin noted that the Madison Electric Department had not recently increased its rates. Eimers said the last electricity rate increase had occurred in 2017 when rates were raised by 1%.

According to Eimers, the city had no electricity rate increases in 2018 or 2019. In 2015, the rate increase was 2.7%, and in 2016, the rate increase was 1.5%.

When asked, Eimers said the electricity rate change should increase the city's revenues by about $100,000.

Dennert argued that city officials should have the ability to cut the municipal budget by $100,000 so no rate increase was needed.

The electricity rate increase was passed with a 3-2 vote.

The wastewater rate resolution proposed increases in monthly fixed fees. For residential customers, the monthly fees will increase by $2.50 to $22.50. For commercial and industrial customers, the monthly fees will increase by $5 to $45.

Also, all wastewater services, after the first service, that are connected to a master meter will have their fees increased from $14 to $15 per month per residence. The volume fee paid per 100 cubic feet will remain the same at $4.01.

Lee commented that Madison residents had experienced a difficult year in 2019, partly due to street construction work and partly due to natural disasters. Lee mentioned that Washington Ave. businesses had probably contributed less in sales taxes.

Commissioner Johnson said Madison had seen some promising sales-tax figures earlier in the year.

Thill expressed doubts about the timing of the wastewater-rate increase.

"A lot of businesses are not making a bunch of money," Thill said.

The annual revenue collected from the wastewater fee increases was estimated at $170,000.

The wastewater fee increase was passed with a 3-2 vote.

The city commissioners also increased the tire and drop-off fees at Madison's restricted-use site with a 5-0 vote.

The drop-off fees for passenger car tires will increase from $1.50 to $2 per tire. Light-truck tire fees will increase from $2.50 to $3 per tire, and semi-truck tire drop-offs will increase from $6.50 to $7 per tire. All tractor-tire fees are set at $20 per tire. Previously, the tractor-tire fees ranged from $10.50 to $20.50 per tire.

Residents and commercial users of the restricted-use site will see fee increases. For dropping off refuse and debris by pickup, the fees increase from $15 to $18 per pickup load. If the refuse and debris is hauled by truck or trailer, the city has increased the charges from $10 to $12 per cubic yard.

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