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Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868

City water, sewer rates going up

Independence will inrease utility fees by 5 percent on Jan. 1

December 23, 2013

INDEPENDENCE — After three years of 22 percent increases per year in water rates, residents of Indepen-dence will see a smaller increase this year, 5 percent.

The increase takes effect Jan. 1.

According to a memo presented to the Independence City Council at its Dec. 17 special meeting, the average household water bill will increase from $51.99 to $54.60, for use of 700 cubic feet of water.

"It's a significantly smaller increase," said City Manager David Clyne.

He said the city had to have dramatic increases from 2011 to 2013 to make up for 10 years without any increases.

"Those increases caught us up," Clyne said. "We should be seeing increases once a year now."

Operationally, when it comes to water infrastructure, the city is better off than where it was, he said.

Part of the city's water revenue is used to pay down debt service bonds for MINET.

The 2014 city budget includes a payment of $444,097 to MINET because the nonprofit's debt service payments increase this year.

"MINET's debt service payments will remain high for the next few years before declining marginally for the following 20 years," the memo stated.

Sewer rates also rise

The Independence City Council also approved a 5 percent increase to sewer rates, effective Jan. 1.

This brings the average household sewer bill from $38.94 to $40.89.

Independence residents have had increases of 15 percent per year for the last three years.

The council also approved an updated fee schedule. The new schedule includes a few new fees, including a service connection fee of $400 to connect sewer to new homes without a physical sewage line already.

Clyne said this typically applies to new builds.

Other fees changed or added: A new equipment operator fee will help the city recover the cost of personnel when someone rents city equipment.

The Heritage Museum developed new fees to use the museum's archive of photos.

A fee of 2.5 percent of the payment for municipal court fines up to $15 will be assessed when payment is made by credit card. For all other transactions, including utility payments, a flat fee of $1.50 will be assessed on transactions more than $50.

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