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The Lake News Online
  • Water rates to go up in Sunrise Beach

  • The Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees approved water rate increases and the drafting of the ordinance for the new rates Monday evening but also plan to further study its rate structure in hopes of a better solution.
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  • The Sunrise Beach Board of Trustees approved water rate increases and the drafting of the ordinance for the new rates Monday evening but also plan to further study its rate structure in hopes of a better solution.
    The board moved forward with the rate increase that had been revised from an initial proposal in conjunction with a subsidy from the city's capital improvement sales tax in order to meet the financial obligations of its bonding requirements.
    Trustee Charlie Bott pointed out that the utility would continue to go in the hole every month it waited to implement the rate increase during the board's discussion following a public hearing on the issue.
    The board debated whether to reconsider rates again after hearing complaints from city residents on fixed incomes.
    The city also received a letter from Mary Jo Hall who called the increase "unfair to all of us senior citizens."
    Earlier this summer, it was businesses that were before the trustees with concerns about the rate increases. Commercial users then bore the brunt of the cost in the initial proposal to raise rates to meet an increase in bond payments to USDA Rural Development for construction of the water system.
    Since the public hearing in June, the board reworked the rate structure to balance the burden more between businesses and residents.
    Under the new structure, residential users will pay a flat fee of $45 for the first 4,000 gallons each month as opposed to $39 for 5,000 gallons. Commercial users would receive 2,000 gallons for $45 instead of the current base of $39 for 1,000 gallons.
    Both types of users will pay $10.50 per 1,000 gallons over the base as opposed to the current $8.23.
    After studying current residential usage, the city leaders believe that most residents' water usage will still typically fall under the base amount.
    In March 2014, the village's payments on its bonds rose from $6,023 per month to $10,823 after the requirements went from interest only to both interest and principal, impacting the water system budget by $57,600 a year.
    After hearing complaints from both sides of its customer base, the board indicated it would continue to study the issue despite having to go forward with the rate increase to stay solvent in the short term.
    Some of the residents at the Aug. 11 hearing questioned the flat fee for the base amount of water usage, asking instead for a per-1,000 gallon fee.
    The board may also consider breaking users and their rates down into more categories as it has done with the sewer system.
    There was also a suggestion that the city get tougher on businesses and residences that are located along the existing water system but have refused to hook up.
    Page 2 of 2 - Having more customers on the existing infrastructure would also bring in more revenue to cover the utility construction payments.
    A city ordinance does make hook-up mandatory for properties in close proximity to a line.
    The water system currently has 155 residential meters and 41 commercial meters.

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