By Janet Jacobs

Daily Sun



An expert on water and sewer rates recommended a 13.5 percent increase in water rates for 2010 to the Corsicana City Council during a budget work session Tuesday evening.

For an average home, that would translate into a 63-cent monthly increase in water rates, according to the plan proposed by Robert McLain of McLain Decision Support Systems out of Lewisville. The city council was given three options: an across-the-board 13.5 percent increase, raising rates to cover what it actually costs to provide water and sewer services, which would increase rates about 66 percent, or a modified rate increase that would put the burden of water increases on large-scale users.

The third option was recommended to the council by McLain.

The city is currently operating its utility fund at a deficit, and it may pull ahead this summer if water use is high, but the city currently has about a three-day reserve of funds, and should have about 90 days, McLain said.

In his findings, McLain wrote:

“The water and wastewater enterprise fund is in poor financial condition.”

He recommended a 13.5 percent increase in water rates, followed by a 6 percent increase in 2011, and a 2 percent increase in 2012. However, both McLain and City Manager Connie Standridge said they would only suggest taking it one year at a time, rather than passing one ordinance to automatically raise rates for the next three years.

People in the county are conserving water better than they did prior to the 2006 drought, McLain said. In 2005, the city sold 2.6 billion gallons of water. The next year, the county sold 2.2 billion gallons, and that conservation hurts the city’s bottom line, he said.

“It’s a consumption issue and a revenue issue,” McLain said.

Because it’s a utility fund where the biggest costs are debt service, electricity and chemicals, the city has fixed costs and can’t adjust the budget year to year as it could with a service-oriented department, Standridge said.

To address the debt problems, the city has pushed back the expansion of the Lake Halbert treatment plant to the year 2015, but the cost of moving water and sewer lines underneath Seventh Avenue to coordinate with a state project to improve drainage on that street can’t be put off, Standridge said.

Under the recommended plan, the cost to a small residential customer, who uses about 6,000 gallons of water a month, would be a 63-cent increase in water rates and 60 cents in sewer costs. To a larger customer, who uses 80,000 gallons, a bill might go up 42 percent under the recommended plan.

If it were to go up only 13.5 percent, a big customer would pay about $69 more per month, but under the recommended option, the bill would go up $212.

“We’ve looked at every opportunity to cut costs,” Standridge told the council.

In summarizing, Mayor C.L. “Buster” Brown noted that “short of getting the power plant up and running next week,” the proposal would skew the increase to people who use the most water. He asked for a cost impact analysis for the city’s largest 10 industrial customers.

“I don’t want it to be a disincentive to new business,” Brown said.

The council has not voted on any increases yet.

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Janet Jacobs may be reached via e-mail at jacobs@corsicanadailysun.com. Want to “Soundoff” on this story? E-mail: soundoff@corsicanadailysun.com



CORSICANA CITY COUNCIL MEETING BRIEFS

By Janet Jacobs/Daily Sun Staff Writer



Land-use table approved

The Corsicana City Council approved Tuesday a new land-use table that sets out where certain kinds of activities and businesses can be located within the city, and where special use permits would be required. It was the result of numerous public meetings, said Paul Ward planning and zoning manager.



Water line bid approved

The council OK’d a bid from Triple A Sanitation to install a water line and sewer line to the new Denny’s restaurant. Triple A had a significantly lower bid price, at $73,819, but the company has a solid history, said Elizabeth Borstad, city engineer.



Night curfew renewed

A youth curfew of 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends was renewed. The curfew is big help to the police department, said Ladena Baggett, assistant police chief.



Pay grade changes OK’d

The council also approved changing the structure of the animal control department, currently unoccupied, with altered pay grades for the workers. The animal shelter is currently being manned by police and volunteers.



Public forum, city manager reports

Leon Allard said the city needs to get tough with aggressive dogs, and he related an incident in which he was attacked by a roaming pit bull. City Manager Connie Standridge extended thanks to the Navarro County Adult Probation Department’s Community Service workers, who cleaned out all the tree wells downtown, and congratulations to the education efforts of Lago de Plata apartment complex.





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