Caraway water and sewer rates increased
Water and sewer rates were the main topic of the March 12 Caraway City Council meeting.
Terry Couch, water superintendent, presented a rate study by Arkansas Rural Water Association (ARWA); the present cost and expense of each department for 2014; and a proposed rate increase.
Caraway Mayor Barry Riley and the council, along with Mr. Couch, have been discussing and reviewing water and sewer rate options for several months.
In 2014 the overall loss for the combined water and sewer departments was $33,273.37.
The council discussed several options.
Couch said they do not need to "just" break even. He went on to say there is a need to replace lines and a lot of work that needs to be done as the system is aging.
"I can do the work while I am still here," Couch said.
He estimated work he could do for $50,000 would cost $250,000 if the work was done by outside contractors.
The proposed increases for water is $7.35 for the first 1,000 gallons plus 4.08 for each additional 1,000 gallons. At the end of the year Couch estimated a profit of $20,216.86 in the water department.
The proposed sewer increase is $12.57 minimum with $4.78 for each additional 1,000 gallons. It would give an estimated profit of $35.85. The over profit would be $20,252.71.
Couch said he is proud there will be no increase to those using only the minimum of 1,000 gallons.
Couch then said one of the sewer loan payments would be paid off in a couple of years giving the city an additional $30,000 a year to work with in repairing/replacing lines.
"If it all passes, I know where we need to start," Couch said.
He said he knows the trouble sites and keeps a close eye on them.
Councilman John Boatman said it had been eight years since the water rate was increased.
Couch pointed out the water and sewer department does not run on tax money. They are separate from the other departments.
"A gallon of milk goes up or a gallon of gas and we still have to purchase it," Councilman Bo James said. "We are not trying to make money. I know it is tough on our citizens on a fixed income."
"I'll do all I can do," Couch said. "We all do all we can do. I love this town and the people."
"Like everything else, chemicals and equipment go up every year," Council Mitchell Tipton said.
Caraway resident Jerry Murphy talked about the rate increase saying he realized Couch was between a rock and a hard place. "You have to do your job is all I can tell you."
The council pointed out the trash pick up which is also on the water bill is $13 of the total bill.
With the new water and sewer rates, the monthly charge of anyone using the minimum of 1,000 gallons will actually go down, slightly. Anyone using 1,500 gallons will only see a 25 cent increase.
The council voted unanimously on the proposed water and sewer rate increase, with a one percent each yearly increase.
"The one percent a year increase will help," Mayor Barry Riley said. "Materials and supplies will continue to go up."
Murphy then asked the council if the trash pick-up company will take off for the week they were not able to pick-up trash due to weather.
Mayor Riley said he would check.
Murphy then asked the mayor and council about city clean-up.
"We have a lot of trash from one end to another," Murphy said. "We have limbs everywhere, house trailers with old couches in the yard. I am asking you to look around."
Mayor Riley said the council is waiting on the weather and ordinances would be handed out next week.
In closing comments:
*Councilman Williams asked about the possibility of having a spot for a community garden.
*Tornado sirens need to be checked.
*Mayor Riley said the city officials have been invited to a ground breaking at the school on April 16.