The Bethel City Council took no action at a special meeting in which they brought out the calculators and spreadsheets to try to make sense of water and sewer rates.
The city needs to raise rates to cover the cost of service, otherwise it can’t apply for grant funds for projects like the overstressed sewage lagoon or replacing pipes for Bethel Heights, also known as the ‘housing’ neighborhood. Piped customers would see the steepest increase, over 70 percent the first year.
Bethel Resident, Mike Walters, said the city would have a tough time justifying rates in Housing, given the rusty quality of the water there.
“Once the quality of water is brought up in Bethel Heights, certainly then you have a premium product you can charge more for, but until that’s done I don’t think you can charge a premium to the Bethel Heights customers, because of the quality of the product delivered,” said Walters.
Under the propped water and sewer rate plan, some hauled customer would see their rates drop before rising in the following couple of years.
One idea is to not allow any short term decreases in hauled service.
Former Mayor Eric Middlebrook persuaded the council to look into separating the charge for the cost of billing into a line item, rather than including it in the rates. That could be accompanied with a percentage raise.
The council also discussed changing the ordinance that requires houses to connect to piped systems if they wanted to have a water tank. Those delivery routes, however, have been discontinued.
The council also passed a resolution prioritizing the failing sewage lagoon truck dump site and dredging the holding cells for possible future state Village Safe Water funding.
The council plans to hold another meeting on water and sewer July 1st.