Manila Council discusses water/sewer increases

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Town Crier News Staff

Manila Mayor Wayne Wagner and the city council discussed water and sewer rates at the Feb. 16 meeting.

"Mr. Ford (Henry Ford, director of public works) and I have been wrestling this for weeks," Mayor Wagner said.

Manila City Council members look over utility rates. Pictured are Councilwoman Linda Donovan, Councilman Steve Milligan, and City Clerk Susie Parker. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Manila charges $5 for the first 1,000 gallons of water and $1.10 per additional thousand. The charge for 5,000 gallons is $9.40. The sewer rates are $6 for the first 1,000 gallons with $1.25 per additional thousand. A total for 5,000 gallons is $11.

A comparison of rates for surrounding towns showed Manila at a lower rate.

"We want to make any increase in a way to least hurt our people on fixed incomes," Mayor Wagner said.

Raising the minimum on the first 1,000 gallons to $8 or $9 was discussed.

Mr. Ford gave a break down of the cost of installing a water meter.

The city's cost is $239.38. The charge to the customer is $250. If there is a need for larger lines the city goes in the hole.

"That does not allow for wear and tear on the equipment or labor," Mayor Wagner said.

Councilman Jason Baltimore said based on this there is a need to do something.

"I would like to see a budget before making a decision," Baltimore said.

"We need to make a good decision and not come in here every six months and say we need to do more," Mayor Wagner said. "Water, sewer and trash are different budgets than the general budget. Overall the city is in good shape but we cannot routinely take money from the general fund for water, sewer or trash. For years we have barely broken even or gone in the hole in the water, sewer and trash departments."

"Will that ($3 to $4 added to the minimum) get us out of the hole?" Councilman Steven Milligan asked.

Councilman Baltimore said he would like to see an average use per household.

The council set a meeting for 4 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, to review and discuss water/sewer rate increase."

Councilman Dale Murphy said councilmen need a list of all of the cost of materials and repairs "so we can show the people why the increase is needed."

Mayor Wagner said Entergy has professional tree trimmers in town.

"They do this routinely to keep the trees out of the power lines," Wagner said. They have an easement. Once the limbs are trimmed, they take care of the clean-up. They do not put any extra burden on the city."

Mayor Wagner said there have been some problems with tree trimming companies (not the company with Entergy) that cut down the tree and pile up the brush for the city to clean up.

"Tree trimmers that come in to do the work should be responsible for the cleanup," Mayor Wagner said. "Maybe residents can get the word out of who does a good job."

In other business:

*Woody Townsend and Greg Smith, representing the Manila Pilot's Association, attended the meeting. Mayor Wagner talked about a new executive hangar for the airport that will go to bid Feb. 22. The hangar will make room for four or five more airplanes. There is a waiting list for hangars.

*Mayor Wagner informed the council city treasurer Rebecca Hartgrave was served with an interrogatories (a list of questions) in the lawsuit filed by Mr. Gamble against City Attorney Wes Wagner.

"We hired attorney Mike Bearden to represent her," Mayor Wagner said. "I think they are scheduled to answer the questions on Friday."

*Following a short executive session, council voted unanimously on Mayor Wagner's recommendation to hire Logan Knight as police officer.

*Mayor Wagner asked for volunteers from the council to be present and sign off on 2007 files to be destroyed.

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