Water rates to rise soon in Gladstone

GLADSTONE – Gladstone residents will soon be paying more for water, wastewater, and solid waste removal due to rate changes approved by the city commission Monday night.

Residents can expect to see a 2 percent increase in solid waste rates. For the average homeowner with one trash cart and one recycling cart, this translates to a 30 cent increase.

“It used to be about 50 percent of our revenue was millage and the other 50 percent was rates. This is the second year that we did away with the millage,” said Barry Lund, public works supervisor.

The change will provide approximately $5,700 in additional revenue, and keeps the city current with rising tipping fees and fuel costs.

“The tipping fees at the landfill have gone up slightly, so this kind of keeps pace with tipping fees. I think it’s something that is wise to do,” said Commissioner Hugo Mattonen.

Electric rates will remain unchanged in the city, despite recommendations from WPPI Energy, the power company which supplies the city.

“WPPI did a rate study for us for our electric department and they proposed a one-and-a-half percent rate increase, but they make some assumptions that we didn’t totally agree with,” said City Manager Darla Falcon.

The water rate for residents will increase by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons of water – changing the rate from $4.45 to $4.70 per 1,000 gallons.

“The (American Water Works Association), the group that we’re in, just completed our every five year survey of the Upper Peninsula … even with this rate increase we’ll still be over $9 below the average in the U.P. for 5,000 gallons,” said Eric Buckman, water treatment plant superintendent.

Wastewater rates will also increase by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons. This will increase the rate from $5.40 to $5.65 per 1,000 gallons.

“I’m hoping this will be the last (rate increase) for a couple years. We’re going to see where we’re sitting and see what project costs are going to be and then go from there,” said Buckman.

The funds generated from the water and wastewater increases will be used for improvements on the wastewater treatment facility. In addition to the rate increase, the commission approved a proposal for an S2 Planning Grant Application which will be used to apply for funding for upgrades and repairs to the facility.

“We have a general plan that we’re following,” said Buckman of the upgrades. “Some things are getting to the point where they have to be taken care of sooner rather than later.

The commission also approved the 2013-2014 fee schedule, a document available on the city’s website which lists fees for various services provided by the city. This is the second year the city has offered a single document to residents listing all of the city’s fees.

“When we listed the fees on our website you had to go to the water page to get the water rate; the wastewater page to get the wastewater rate. So we combined it all into one document,” said Falcon.