City utility rates rise: Water and sewer up 3 percent
Jamestown residents will see an increase of between $1.50 and $2 on their monthly utility bills after the first of the year.
The Jamestown City Council approved increases of 3 percent for water and sewer utilities and 5 percent for sanitation and solid waste during a special meeting Wednesday.
"We are trying to be reasonable with utility rates," said Mayor Katie Andersen.
Last year saw a 5 percent increase in all utility rates although some years saw no increases.
"We went so many years without an increase," said Councilman Ramone Gumke. "We are catching up with a lot of years of inflation."
The 5 percent increase in sanitation and solid waste resulted from about $100,000 deficient spending in those departments. The increase will generate an extra $57,000, leaving the departments facing a roughly $43,000 reduction in reserves.
The sanitation fee is charged to residents who have city pickup of their garbage. The solid waste fee is charged to anyone who hauls waste to the baler.
The city's general fund budget was reviewed during an Aug. 26, meeting. City Administrator Jeff Fuchs said the city is planning on a 5.8-mill reduction in the general fund levy. The amount may change slightly when state-assessed utilities such as railroads, gas lines and electric lines are factored in.
"The reduced mill rate will generate the same amount of tax because of increased valuations," Fuchs said.
The mill rate reduction amounts to a saving of about $26 per year on a $100,000 home.
The city budget includes funds to pay a 3 percent cost-of-living raise and a 2.5 percent step raise to all employees.
"We have a salary study already scheduled," Andersen said. "That could adjust what any individual will see as a raise but the budget will stay the same."
The salary study should be completed by the end of the year and any adjustments could be reflected in January, Fuchs said.
Councilman Charlie Kourajian asked questions regarding recycling in Jamestown.
"We promised our citizens we would look at recycling this year," he said. "We have done nothing and now it's October."
Kourajian said recycling was part of the strategic plan for 2013.
"It was on the strategic plan but any recycling involves cost," Fuchs said. "We need to determine how much the community is willing to pay."
Fuchs also said the 2014 budget includes no funding for further research into recycling.
Andersen said Kourajian should place the topic on a future regular meeting where it could be advertised and the public would be allowed to comment.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org