Lakeview Town Council continued its discussion of water rates for Lakeview residents at its work session on Wednesday, Feb. 17.
Water rates have not increased in Lakeview for at least 11 years, even though the Lakeview Town Council passed an ordinance in 2008 that was supposed to raise rates automatically based on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) annually. In 2020, Lakeview Town Mgr. Michele Parry proposed to the Council that the Town raise rates across a year-and-a-half to make up for the difference of not raising rates over the past 11 years. The raise in rates would have made the Town’s rates more competitive and helped to pay for the $10 million water treatment project. After an outcry from the community over her proposal, Parry put it on the backburner and has been working on different ideas and ways to reach out to the community.
The Town Council decided not to discuss what the rates would be for the $10 million loan that has been filed with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the water treatment project.
The Council wanted to discuss the ordinance that has never been enforced and potentially doing a one-time increase this year, followed by the CPI in the coming years.
“I believe we should do a 1.5% increase as of this April, followed by the CPI after for both water and sewer. Then spend the next six months reaching out to the community and gaining input about the new rates for the project,” Parry told the Council.
The Council was supportive of the idea of the one-time increase in April, followed by CPI increases in following years.
Lakeview Public Works Dir. Jeff Marshall said the Town’s rates would still be well below the state average with the CPI increase. He suggested the Town look at potentially splitting the water treatment project into smaller components, though when the Council presented the full master plan to the community during a meeting in Memorial Hall a couple of years ago the public was supportive of doing the entire project at once. If the full master plan is followed to improve the water, then that would raise rates by around $20 per month. Rates would only increase about $7 – 10 if the water treatment project is completed instead of the entire master plan in one go.
Parry said that with no feedback on the USDA loan, both the loan and the discussion about new water rates really has to be run in parallel so that the new rates are in place once the project is ready to go as the loan repayments begin once the construction is complete.
The Council authorized Town Attorney Jeff Hedlund to write a resolution to increase the water rates as of April 1 for 1.5%; the Council will vote on the change at its Tuesday, Feb. 23.
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