REXBURG — An increase in costs has prompted the city to consider raising its sewer, water and garbage rates.
The city's financial officer, Matt Nielson, made a recommendation for the increase during the City Council meeting held earlier this month. Each of the proposed rate increases is based on averages for each type of account.
Nielson suggested raising residential costs by $10 a month.
“It's $86 a month for those services. The new rate would be $96, or an 11.07 percent increase,” he said.
Currently residents pay $35.96 for sewer, $27.80 for water, $20.54 for garbage and $1.65 for a street light surcharge. The proposed rate would see sewer increase to $41.87, water to $31.08 and garbage to $21.38, but no increase for the lights.
The city is proposing that apartment complexes' rates would increase from a total of $596.15 a month to $668.54, an extra $72, or 12.1 percent. Rexburg businesses would see their rates rise from a combined $273.35 a month to $296.52 a month, an increase of $23.17, or 8.5 percent a month.
“This is honestly the biggest increase that I've seen in a while, but we're hoping to get that down,” Nielson said.
The increases resulted from various factors, he said.
“The problem we have here is that we added a (garbage) truck and added another person. Those costs are real. On the sewer, the sewer reserves are much more depleted than are the water reserves,” Nielson said.
Nielson said he plans a meeting to go over the utility hike and see if any cuts can be made to keep rates low.
“We're going to really go through that very closely and see what we can cut out and reduce those increases,” he said.
Mayor Jerry Merrill said that he's noted that when cities fail to gradually increase rates over time, they get hit with huge increases later, eventually.
“Several other communities around have resisted raising rates, and then 10 years down the road they've had to double or triple them. They've discovered they have to build a new treatment plant and have no money in reserve. That becomes a really big problem,” he said.
The city has attempted to limit any increase whenever possible, Merrill said.
“We try to keep increases as low as we possibly can but recognize that they're kind of a fact of life. It's like bread and milk and everything else going up a little bit at a time,” he said.
Councilman Chris Mann agreed with Merrill.
“It's always hard when you have an increase in utilities. We want our water clear and our sewer to be well taken care of. It takes money to preserve a good neighborhood,” he said.
Nielson said that he would return with more specific information during a subsequent council meeting.
“We'll bring in more in-depth studies of each of these fees in about a month,” he said.
The council meets again at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 5, at Rexburg City Hall. The meeting is open to the public. For more information call 208-359-3020.