Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
June 20, 2012
FALLS CITY -- The city of Falls City will soon be raising water rates and requiring employees to help cover the cost of health insurance.
The Falls City City Council voted on both issues Thursday at its regular meeting.
The most pressing of the two concerns was addressing the city water rates.
Since 2009-10, the cost to deliver water to residents has outpaced revenue. In fiscal year 2009-10, the city lost $60,585 and $27,664 in 2010-11.
Keith Moes, the city's finance officer said if rates were left unchanged, the city would exhaust its water fund reserves and be an estimated $30,000 in the hole by 2013-14.
"The bottom line is that if we don't raise the rates, we will have a deficit," Mayor Amy Houghtaling said. "We will have no contingency and that is not legal."
To begin bridging the gap, the council voted to have a resolution drafted increasing its monthly base water rate by $2, bringing most residential rates to $37. Also, the water usage overage fee -- the fee for each 1,000 gallons used above the base of 5,000 gallons -- was increased by 25 cents bringing it to $2.25 for residential customers.
Future increases will likely be needed, as the approved increase will only cover about a third of the expected $30,000 deficit.
"This isn't the end of this discussion," Councilor John Volkmann said.
The council approved the recommendation by unanimous vote. Final approval will require the drafting of a resolution and approval of the council in an upcoming council meeting.
Concern for city finances also motivated the council to consider another cost-saving measure.
Currently, the city fully pays for employee health benefits, a topic which was discussed during city Budget Committee hearings this spring.
The committee recommended the city begin charging employees the following monthly fees for health insurance: $50 for employees, $100 for employee and spouse, and $150 for employee, spouse and children.
Councilor Henry Hughes said, while he regretted to have to support the recommendation, sharing health care costs with employees has become standard for many public entities.
"It's just the way things have been going to keep us alive as a state," he said.
The council voted 5-to-1 to approve the recommendation, with Councilor Julee Bishop voting `no.'
In other business, the council:
* Approved its 2012-13 budget in the amount of $1,747,670, with $257,331 in the general fund.
* Has three positions, as well as the mayor's seat, up for election Nov. 6. The seats currently held by councilors Erma Ferguson, Julee Bishop, Henry Hughes and Mayor Amy Houghtaling will appear on the ballot this fall.
Terms for the council seats are four years and two years for mayor. Candidate petition forms are available at City Hall, 299 Mill St. Completed petitions are due at City Hall by 4 p.m. Aug. 27. For more information: 503-787-3631.