Water rate hike proposed

MONMOUTH — Monmouth residents may see a 10 percent increase to their water rates effective July 1, if approved by the city council.    The rate increase has been assumed in the 2014-15 budget documents, said city manager Scott McClure.    The council recently established minimum reserve policies, and the water fund is not at that basic level — 25 percent. Instead, it is closer to 12 percent reserves, McClure said.    “We have several capital projects that we need to do,” he said. “Even if you say you’re OK going below the (targeted) reserve, we don’t have enough money.”    The city has completed a number of projects in the water system over the last few years and was able to pay cash for those rather than take out bonds, McClure said.    “We were progressive and did a lot of projects,” he said. “We’ve drawn that fund down.”    Now, Monmouth’s biggest well is being infiltrated by the Willamette River during flood conditions, McClure said. The well was built more than 20 years ago.    “That could bring some contaminants,” he said. “We need to rectify that, either re-case the well, or drill a new well.”    Other projects include maintenance on a water tank, McClure said.    “We need to come back and do a full rate review, see where we are,” he said. It has been five or six years since the city did a rate review, he added.    Other budget news:    • The Monmouth Budget Committee spent three and a half hours receiving the budget message and discussing the numbers. Most of the conversation revolved around the police department.    The $35,000 requested by Central School District Superintendent Buzz Brazeau to help pay for a school resource officer was not calculated in the budget document proposed on April 29. Also up for consideration but not in the budget document was a 10th police officer, which would bring Monmouth’s Police Department up to 14 sworn personnel.    “Some committee members said it sounds like a great program, others said they’re not sure it’s the best use of money,” McClure said. “It sounds like people desire all those positions, but as what happens with the budget process is you can’t fund them all.”    The committee will hold its third and final meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Volunteer Hall.    


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