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Monmouth Sewer, Water Rates To Rise

MONMOUTH -- Residents will see their sewer and water bills jump in June. The Monmouth City Council has affirmed the final increase in a multi-year rate hike program for those two utilities.

MONMOUTH -- Residents will see their sewer and water bills jump in June.

The Monmouth City Council has affirmed the final increase in a multi-year rate hike program for those two utilities.

Meanwhile, citizens should get a break on their electric bill. Monmouth Power & Light isn't recommending a rate increase because of a healthy reserve fund.

There is a caveat, however, to the latter utility that's tied to the Monmouth-Independence Network (MINET).

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Total monthly water bills will grow by 6 percent, with flat fees for 5/8- and 3/4-inch residential water lines increasing to $11.30 and the water rate to $1.62 per cubic foot.

The sewer rate for residential service in Monmouth will grow by 15 percent, from an annual cost of $383 per residential unit to $440.48.

The council approved in 2008 a schedule of increases for municipal water, sewer and electric systems through 2010-11. The changes were made to shore up low reserve totals in utility funds and pay for necessary capital improvements.

Monmouth sewer lagoons, for example, will need to be cleaned out and have their intake equipment repaired in order to continue meeting user capacity. Those fixes will cost as much as $2.5 million.

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Monmouth Power & Light has built up a $1.4 million reserve. Despite a forthcoming increase in wholesale power prices, the city didn't recommend a rate increase for electric users.

But an effort to restructure MINET's current debt could figure into electricity prices, City Manager Scott McClure said.

MP&L serves as a "backstop" for MINET, with funds coming from the utility if MINET can't make expenses.

If a planned debt restructure for MINET does not occur, MP&L rates may need to be reassessed -- beyond normal increases -- in a few years, McClure said.

"That's going to be a tough sell," said City Councilor Chris Larsen.

Conversely, if the restructure happens, MINET will more immediately pay off previous loans from Monmouth and Independence.

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