City Council met in special session on February 27, 2018 at 6:30 P.M. at the Soltman Center.
Mayor Lester presided:
Councilmember absent: Pete Lane
City employees present were Chief Drew, Public Works Director McFrederick, Public Works Maintenance Supervisor Mager, Public Works Maintenance Lead Jones and Clerk Kennedy.
Brad Watson with J-U-B Engineers presented information on Rates and Fees for Water and Wastewater Utilities. Also present from J-U-B were Cory Baune and David Watkins to answer questions. Approximately 9 citizens present.
Brad Watson explained the ultimate goal when setting fees is to provide adequate, predictable revenue that is defendable.
The monthly charges (user rates) to existing customers should cover:
• Operations & Maintenance
• Administration (Cities could include portion of Clerk, Finance, Legal)
• Some specific capital improvements
• Bond debt
• Sub-district assessments for water/sewer districts
System Development Charges have a variety of names: Equity Buy In, Assessment Connection or Capitalization Fee. This charge is a one-time charge for new customers for an equitable share of the cost of infrastructure to serve their needs. This payment is a pro rata share of the system that has been built to serve them. It is not intended for renewals and replacements nor intended for level of service increases that benefit existing users. An upgrade to the system to meet regulations is a fee which should be paid by all users.
The Water Master Plan is just getting started and J-U-B and staff will work on it this year. At the tail end of the Master Plan the rates will be reviewed and recommendations made for the council to consider.
Public Works Director McFrederick stated the system only has so much capacity so each new connection has to buy the capacity they are using. Earl Musick questioned whether the fees and master plan would be based upon Grangeville or other cities like Meridian. J-U-B explained the numbers are based upon the City’s equipment/assets. There are good guidelines to determine the hookup fees. They look at the growth that may happen if it’s a percentage or at zero. They also look at fire demand to see what is required to meet current demand. The plan is specific to Grangeville.
Mayor Lester stated right now an equivalent residence is based upon one residential house, whether 10 bathrooms or one bathroom. McFrederick stated he has been looking into options of what is fair. Some cities choose .25 of an ER for one bedroom apartments. Each city needs to determine a plan.
Ted Lindsley felt the City was doing a good job; however he felt user rates need to be raised to cover all the upgrades of projects.
Mayor Lester questioned if you buy two lots side by side and have existing services for both lots, then tear down the house and only use one connection, can you use the second connection elsewhere? McFrederick stated yes, they would do that in Caldwell. The owner would get a credit for each equivalent residence.
Cory Baune explained over the next 4-6 months J-U-B will be gathering information and completing analysis. It will probably be fall before they are back to meet with the Council. They will hopefully wrap up at the end of the year on the Master Plan.
For sewer, the plan may be budgeted next year. The next permit will have a lot of information in it so the sewer master plan would be started about the time the water master plan is completed.
In response to some of the comments made that the equity buy in fees are too high and are inhibiting growth, Mayor Lester stated the Council receives training from staff and engineers. When they receive numbers from the engineers he felt the council couldn’t arbitrarily cut the rates in half or to a different number. The City paid money for a professional recommendation and he didn’t feel it’s the right thing to do.
Adjourned at 7:40 P.M.
Wes Lester – Mayor
Tonya Kennedy – Clerk