Water hike a possibility

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City's water costs increase 4.22%

By Rich Bauer, Managing Editor

Vandalia residents could see their water and sewer bills increasing by about 2 percent in the coming year.
That’s if the city council agrees to let a city ordinance automatically kick in a rate increase for water service.
In presenting the city’s audit for the past fiscal year, Dale Timmermann of Timmermann & Co. Ltd. gave the council on Tuesday figures on the city’s water and sewer expenses for the year ending April 30.
Timmermann said the water system expenses for the past year totaled $1,741,408, an increase of $70,496 over the previous year ($1,670,912).
That’s an increase of 4.22 percent, and that’s how much the water rates for city residents will increase if the city council takes no action.
A number of years ago, as they approved a double-digit increase in water and sewer bills, the city council approved an ordinance which states that any increases in water and/or sewer expenses would automatically translate into equal increases in water and sewer bills for residents.
Aldermen took that action as a way of trying to prevent large, one-time increases in water and sewer rates.
However, the council has the right to alter the amount of any increases, or to not increase rates at all.
“My suggestion would be that you simply let the rate adjustments happen,” Timmermann told aldermen.
The report prepared by Timmermann’s CPA firm shows that the city’s sewer expenses totaled $941,339 in the past fiscal year. That’s a decrease of $4,142 (.44 percent) from the previous year.
Timmermann said that if the council agrees to let the water rate automatically increase by 4.22 percent, city residents could expect their overall water and sewer bill to go up “by probably about 2 percent.”
The city’s audit included an analysis of the water and sewer system operations, which show the number of gallons pumped and the number of gallons billed or accounted for.
In the past year, 298,651,080 gallons were pumped, and 259,842,770 gallons, 87.01 percent, were billed or otherwise accounted for.
That’s about the same as in the previous fiscal year, 87.08 percent, but substantially lower than in 2010 (96.73), 2009 (92.97), 2008 (97.96) and 2007 (99.8).
Alderman Andy Lester asked if there is something the city can do to get back on track.
Alderman Terry Beesley, chairman of the council’s water and sewer committee, responded by saying “We are taking steps.”
Beesley said that one step is “replacing leaking meters and meter loops. We started that this year.
“There are about 30-40 dead meters out there,” he said, adding that other measures are being considered to make the city’s water and sewer production and distribution system more efficient.