On the bright side, Luther water customers got out of paying for increased water rates for a few months. However, an apparent software glitch that didn’t apply the new hike to customers last September has been fixed. Higher water bills have gone out this month, as evidenced by the increased number of phone calls at Town Hall by water customers asking about the hike.
Utility Clerk Lena Wright explained to the callers about the glitch and that the Town Board of Trustees approved the rate hike last August.
Last summer at the meeting when Town Trustees considered the hike, they listened to both water experts and citizens. At the time, Mayor Jenni White explained the water issue to The Luther Register.
“The experts have told us that we have one of the cheapest water rates in the state,” said Mayor Jenni White explaining the experts are with OWRB as well as consultants and engineers who have studied the issue in Luther. She said the last Luther Board of Trustees contracted for a $6,000 study, titled, Town of Luther Hydraulic Analysis/Master Plan Project NO: LUT-14-01, Engineering Report, that was published in September 2016. (Incidentally, she said the study had not been paid for and the current board paid the overdue bill).
That study and plan proposes a multi-phase plan to reflect anticipated growth, replace pipes to increase pressure and water safety, add fire hydrants and even extend water outside of the current water borders from 178th Street to Highway 66 from the south to the north, and west to east from about Cherry Street (by Booker T Washington Park) to Dogwood (by Wildhorse Park).
“We are an old town, and we can’t expect to grow if we can’t maintain what we have or plan for growth,” she said. “Unfortunately this work should have been done 20 years ago, and so now we just have to rip off the band-aid to work toward improvements as quickly as possible.” From an August 6, 2017, Luther Register.
At the August 8 meeting, the Board compromised on the rate hike for both water and sewer. The hikes were supposed to take effect immediately but when they finally took effect for this current cycle, it took some of the 250 customers by surprise.
At that August meeting, many residents voiced concerns about the rate hikes, and the exchange was recorded via FB Live on The Luther Register’s page.
Wright spent quite a bit of her Monday answering questions about the bills. “I’m sorry for any inconvenience this has caused to anyone, she said.