Mayor Jerry Jimison opened the Public Hearing for the proposed sewer rate increase at 6:30 pm on May 7, 2013. The following Council members were present: Leon Baker, Rhett Coon, Mike Dryden, Matt Hull, Gerald Reichert, and Carrie Sokoloski. Others present included Administrative Clerk Jessica Ayre, Director of Operations Kevin Dorwart, Chief of Police Ty Ulrich, and Public Works Director Jack Rice. Council members Steve Bury and Linda Jones were absent along with Fire Chief George Lane, and Recreation Director Dean Svenvold.
The purpose of the public hearing was to get input for the proposed sewer rate increase of $4.79 to become effective May 17, 2013. Mayor Jimison asked Director of Operations Kevin Dorwart to explain the proposed rate increase and what the amount was based on. Dorwart stated that the cost is based on the construction costs of the estimated wastewater sewer treatment plant. He stated three different scenarios were given 25%, 33%, or 50% increase of the amount that we know based on what is left to increase the rates. The Council agreed to go with the 50% increase for an amount of $4.79. Mayor Jimison explained that until actual contract for construction is confirmed the final costs will not be recognized. The Council has chosen to increase monthly rates at a smaller increase per year over a five year period to meet what is believed to meet the estimated revenue to make the payments on an 8-9 million dollar final project.
Mayor Jimison asked if any Council members had any questions. Councilman Dryden asked if the base increase was the only increase. Dorwart responded that a usage rate increase was discussed but they agreed to stick with the base increase at this time. Any adjustments will be made in the final rate increase once we know what the final numbers are. The engineers’ estimates are about 8.9 million dollars for the project. Dorwart explained that they have received $850,000 in grants so far and the difference is the amount for the SRF 20 year loan. That amount divided by the approximately 2000 customers, works out to about a $19.57. Over the past two years $5.00 on the base charge has been increased per year for this project. The difference in the estimate is $9.57. Dorwart believes that rate should be locked in at 3%. Mayor Jimison asked if any other Council members had any questions before it was opened for public comment.
Mayor Jimison asked if there were any members of the audience who like to speak against the proposed sewer rate increase.
Steve Boysun- 417 E. Benham Street - Mr. Boysun wanted to get the views on why we needed to make these changes. He stated that from what he understands the EPA requires a mandatory change to take care of the wastewater. He asked the Council how smaller cities are going to cope with these mandatory changes and if any relief from these rulings will happen down the road in the matter of legislation. Boysun asked if the 8.9 million dollar amount is figured for the residents of the city of Glendive. Mayor Jimison stated that they are currently in the process of designing and building the wastewater treatment facility so that the County Commissioners can buy into the plant and the West Glendive residents could become customers also. Because West Glendive is facing the same issue this would help both at the same time. Mr. Boysun stated that this is a slippery slope in regards to water systems, street, and annexation. By attempting to solve another cities problem, this puts a significant burden on the residents of Glendive. He explained that each of us has to live within our income and the cities have to live that way to.
Mayor Jimison then asked if there were any members of the audience who like to speak in favor of the proposed sewer rate increase.
Richard Crouch- 418 Sigmund-Mr. Crouch encouraged the Council to do what they have to establish this new system along with coordinating with the county to save some costs.
Mayor Jimison asked if any of the Council members would like to comment concerning the sewer rate increase.
Gerald Reichert restated that the reasoning for the process is not only the EPA but also the state of Montana requirements that are changing. It is also a question of the quality of water going back into the Yellowstone. There will become a time that the permit will not be renewed so these proactive changes are to be able to meet those requirements. In addition, West Glendive is going to run into the same issue and they recognize that because they have the same lagoon system. This is an avenue to take care of both the Glendive and West Glendive lagoon issues.
Mayor Jimison asked if any Council members had any questions.