Manila utility rates on the rise
Manila City Council discussed, reviewed and approved several increases in services for the coming year. Mayor Wayne Wagner said even with the increases, Manila's utilities remain among the lowest in the area.
Raises are necessary to continue with needed improvements, to meet the increase in fees at the county landfill, and improve and maintain the infrastructure.
The minimum bill for water, sewer and trash pick up will be $39.86. Mayor Wagner said they had looked at the bills and most of the older citizens will be in the minimum range.
"No one at this table wants to go up on rates, but we have to improve on our infrastructure," Councilman Jason Baltimore said.
Councilman Steven Milligan said the council needs to have a long term plan in place for improvements.
Approved increases include:
*Minimum water bill from $7 to $10; from $2 to $4 for each thousand afterwards.
*Minimum sewer bill from $8 to $12; from $1.50 to $5 for each thousand afterwards.
*Trash pick up from $10 to $15 a month.
Other increases include water deposit going from $100 to $125; new 3/4" meter from $350 to $400; and a new 1" meter from $450 to $500.
Mayor Wagner pointed out the city does not profit for labor on the meters and really the meter charges do not cover the parts.
"New meters mean we are getting new people in town," Mayor Wagner said.
Other rate increases include $100 to $150 for residential building permits; $25 permit for heat and air conditioning contractors; $25 permit for electrical contractors; and $25 permit for plumbing contractors.
"This way we will know who is in town working," Mayor Wagner said.
The council also decided to reinstate the business privilege license fee. All new business started in Manila will need a $25 a year privilege license. Businesses already in Manila will not be charged until January of 2018.
The trash can project has been successful in Manila. Mayor Wagner said the cans can still be purchased at cost ($70) through the city. Residents can pay for the cans up front or have the cost added to their first water bill. The city will no longer take payments.
The council voted to open the transfer station from noon until 4 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday; 8 a.m. until noon Saturday. The cost for dumping will be small load $5; medium load $10; and large load $20.
"We will open other times for a $20 charge," Mayor Wagner said. "Persons can call city hall and someone can meet them at the transfer station during working hours."
Councilman Dale Murphy said the city needs to monitor who is discarding trash at the transfer station.
"We need to make sure it is coming from our residents who live in the city limits," he said.
A review showed fees from the landfill last year at $70,000 and Knights Disposal Services at $33,000 making a total cost for the city of $103,000 in 2016.
The Mississippi County landfill (where Manila's trash is taken) went up 16 percent this year.
Milligan suggested the caretaker at the Manila transfer station have a receipt book for records.
Mayor Wagner said he had talked to the school administrator informing the school's rates will increase from $525 to $750 effective in February.
Mayor Wagner and the council discussed park/pool passes for the summer. It was decided youth participating in the Manila softball/baseball programs can pay the $40 fee and be eligible to add $40 for a season pass at the pool/waterpark. The council also agreed to set $50 for a pool only season pass. There will be a $10 discount for a second child in the family.
"Our youth can play ball and swim all summer," Mayor Wagner said.
"I think it is a good idea," Milligan said.
Pool rental for private parties will be $275 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday; $350 on Friday and Saturday. There will be no more double parties. A time will be set for private party sign-ups.
Mayor Wagner said under new laws a person has to be appointed to conduct a meeting in the absence of the mayor. Mayor Wagner appointed Steven Milligan to fill in if the mayor is not able to attend.
"City Treausurer Cathy Huddleston and City Attorney Wes Wagner will know where everything is located," Mayor Wagner said.
The council voted unanimously in favor of Milligan's appointment.
Mayor Wagner gave the State of the City Address saying Manila is still strong and continuing to see growth. There is new construction underway. Bobby Walton is building 40 new houses, and there are other new houses being built.
"The four-lane highway is shaping up and is ahead of schedule," Wagner said. "We get inquiries often from businesses interested in the area. Southworth is expanding at its older building which will mean more jobs. A town our size is very fortunate to have 200 jobs. We are improving our infrastucture. The city is in good shape. Manila did get a regional baseball and softball tournament set for May 4-6. We expect a good weekend."
Councilman Donnie Wagner asked how the new homes and streets will get into the GPS/911 system. A couple of streets were mentioned and Mayor Wagner said he would contact the county office.
In other business:
*Council voted to change the regular monthly meetings from the third Monday night to the fourth Monday night of each month. The meetings will begin at 5 p.m. until the time changes and then meetings will go back to 6 p.m.
*Council passed an ordinance adjusting the 2016 budget to reflect the actual income and expenditures for the year. Some of the changes were due to grant money. The treasurer informed the council the auditors said expected/pending grants need to be included in the yearly budgets.
*Council voted to approve the 2017 proposed budget. The treasurer said utility increases have been added along with expected grant funds.
*Council voted to allow a variance request from Jeremy Gamble who plans to build two houses on 50'x200' lots on Olympia Street.
*Council members voted on a list of relatives of the elected officials working for the city.
*Complaints on the water discoloration were discussed. Water supervisor Henry Ford said he thinks when the big tower is cleaned it will help. Ford was asked how often the water is checked. He said he checks it daily for Florid, PH levels, etc. and submits samples every month. The health department collects samples quarterly.