NAPOLEON — City council here continued on a path toward increasing water and sewer rates during its meeting Monday night.
Two related ordinances were among the 11 legislative items handled by city council during its first meeting of 2021. Among those was an ordinance concerning funding for the city’s pool project (see related story on page A3.)
Council approved first readings of two ordinances concerning the rate increases — one for water and one for sewer. The ordinances will move to second readings at council’s Jan. 18 meeting.
The four-year rate packages are fairly straightforward — with water hikes of 7% proposed annually and sewer increases at 3% per year through 2024.
The sewer rate hikes will be on the commodity charge of the customers’ bills only, and not on the base rate, according to City Manager Joel Mazur. Therefore, the increase will be higher than 3% on the commodity charge, but overall the rate hike will be 3%.
The water rate hikes are in reverse, he indicated.
Water rates are set to increase more than sewer charges because the city figures to lose water customers in Liberty Center and McClure. Those communities plan to receive future service from the Northwestern Water and Sewer District in Bowling Green.
This could reduce the city’s revenue stream by approximately 16%, according to Mazur.
Without the loss of those customers, he told council Monday, the water rate increase “likely would have been around the 3% or less.”
The average consumer would see approximately a $4 monthly increase for water service, and a little less than half of that for sewer service.
While water and sewer rates may be going up soon, Mazur indicated that electric rates will be going down by about 8%. The city has its own electric utility and routinely adjusts rates based on various factors.
“We’re still estimating that we will be down by about 8% (for electric rates), but residents won’t likely see them — depending on when their billing cycle is — until the March billing cycle,” said Mazur.
In other business Monday, council:
• approved the third and final reading of an ordinance providing for the issuance and sale of $2.5 million in bonds for water treatment plant improvements.
• passed the third and final reading of an ordinance adopting a new pay classification schedule for city employees.
• approved the third and final reading of a resolution extending provisions concerning a temporary reduction in building permit fees. These were eliminated recently in the case of residential building permits.
• passed the second readings of three separate ordinances allowing one-time payments of $2,500 each to the city manager, finance director and law director in 2021. Those positions will not receive salary increases this year.
• passed the first reading of an ordinance approving replacement pages in the city’s codified ordinances reflecting legislative changes enacted by council during previous months. The matter will come back for a second reading at council’s Jan. 18 meeting.
• fielded a property owner’s question about the need to install a new sidewalk at 303 Sheffield Ave. where there had been none. Mazur explained that this is required when a complete street reconstruction takes place as happened in that neighborhood.
• approved a motion authorizing the purchase of police vehicles.
passed a motion reappointing President Joe Bialorucki and Councilman Jeff Comadoll to boards for the volunteer firefighter dependents and volunteer peace officers’ dependents funds.
• referred to committee discussion about the collection of income taxes with the recent change in the city’s reciprocity tax.
• approved a motion accepting an anonymous donation for the police department’s Christmas Cheer program.
• passed a motion accepting donations in memory of Richard Travis, former assistant city fire chief.
• met in executive discussion to personnel and employee compensation.
• heard Bialorucki pass on residential concerns about city utility bills being received late or not getting paid on time due to U.S. Post Office delays. The matter may be referred to a council committee.
• learned from Mazur that fire department employees will pick up discarded Christmas trees left at the curb on Sunday (beginning at 8 a.m.). The city can provide help getting the tree to the curb, officials indicated.