MT. VERNON — The city council will meet today to approve the 2013-14 budget and a 3 percent water/sewer rate increase.
The council discussed the water/sewer rate increase during a budget workshop on April 16, stating the increase is needed to keep the pulic utilities accounts level with the cost of providing services.
"A three percent increase still leaves us short on the ending balance to meet our fiscal polity ordinance," Councilman David Wood said during the workshop. "If we were to raise it 4 percent, that would put us over the fiscal policy guidelines. My opinion is we don't have to address this all at once."
Under terms of the city fiscal ordinance, the city should end the year with $567,000 in the public utilities fund.
"When you look historically at where we've been with this fund, five years ago we were in the hole," said Mayor Mary Jane Chesley. "We've dug ourselves out of that hole."
The council was presented with three options for water/sewer rates by City Manager Ron Neibert — a zero increase, a 1 percent increase and the 3 percent increase. Under the proposed level budget for public utilities, the ending fund balance would have been $46,834; under the 1 percent increase, the final balance would have been $404,726; and with the three percent increase, the ending balance is projected at $520,000.
Under terms of the proposed ordinance, the first 2,000 gallons of water will have a rate of $12.45 minimum charge; the next 2,000 gallons will be $8.39 per 1,000 gallons; the next 11,000 gallons will be $749 per 1,000 gallons; the next 35,000 gallons will be $6.95 per 1,000 gallons; the next 100,000 gallons will be $4.65 per 1,000 gallons; the next 300,000 gallons will be $4.08 per 1,000 gallons; and 500,000 gallons or more will be charged $3.45 per 1,000 gallons.
"The rate for bulk sales of water not made through metered sources to one purchaser shall be 25 cents per 32 gallons," the proposed ordinance states. "Whenever water is supplied to premises outside of the corporate limits of the city, the rates charged shall be a minimum of $22.44 for the first 2,000 gallons and thereafter shall be 130 percent times the rates set forth."
In addition, the ordinance explains how previous rate increases must continue to be spent.
"The proceeds from the 3 percent rate increase effective on May 1, 2009, enacted by Ordinance 2009-14 and all proceeds from each increase effective Nov. 1 of 2009, 2010 and 2012 enacted by Ordinance 2009-30 shall be expended solely for capital construction projects or for capital equipment purchases for the Public Utility Department."
The Council will meet 3 p.m. today at City Hall for a public hearing on the budget and to approve the budget in the city council chambers at City Hall.