The following is the SECOND in a series of submissions from Terry Arps, a member of the Luther Town Board of Trustees, about raising utility rates for the Town of Luther. Rate hikes are proposed for water, sewer and trash services.
By Terry Arps, Luther Town Trustee
June 7, 2020—The proposed adjustments to the charges for Luther Public Works Authority services were compiled by comparing what other municipalities charge,* how they adjust those charges for inflation and what changes are needed to get LPWA routine expenses out of the red. The new rates were also suggested by the paid grant writer used by the Town, who serves several municipalities and is aware of comparative rates.
Throughout the process, consideration was given to limit the rate changes, making them as modest as necessary to achieve the goal of the elimination of current deficit spending by the LPWA. The changes do not include the cost of capital expenses such as new equipment or machinery needed to repair system outages, or other major infrastructure repairs or updates.
Some of you know that the Town sewer system functions with three lift stations to transport (pump) waste to it end destination. The Town has had multiple pump failures and a total lift station outage recently costing $20,000 to repair. Without these immediate repairs, sewer does not flow. Additionally, there are some problematic areas in town where very old sewer lines need to be replaced. These costs are in excess of normal day to day expenses being addressed in the rate adjustment.
Other municipalities have resorted to automatic annual public works rate increases attached to their ordinances. This technique was not incorporated into the agenda item being proposed.
For someone paying for basic water/sewer/trash service the proposed change will be $8.00 dollars per month. While higher rates will apply for those using additional services, the eight dollar increase remains constant until a customer uses over 4000 gals of water and sewer services or asks for additional trash collection services.