Aug 012012

By Naomi Hatch
Members of the Snowflake Town Council approved the first increase in water rates in a decade at their meet-ing last week.
A public hearing was held at the beginning of the meeting, but there was no one in attendance from the pub-lic.
Finance Director Brian Richards noted that water rates had not been raised since 2002. He said that town of-ficials had prepared a plan that will increase rates on Sept. 1 by 7.28 percent for the average water bill, and on July 1, 2013, will increase by an additional 4.36 percent in order to implement a capital improvement plan for the water system.
“We kept the base rate as low as we could and included the charge on the per 1,000 gallons,” explained Town Manager Paul Watson. Usage per 1,000 gallons will increase to $1.68 from $1.47 per 1,000 gallons used.
Watson said that this is to help those on a fixed income and to encourage water conservation.
Councilman Chris Brimhall said that a resident called him to say he would let his yard go to save money. Richards said he had a similar call, but even though the water rate increase was published in the newspaper for two weeks and a public hearing was held, those were the only comments reported by council members and staff.
Richards said that the base rate will go from $15.62 for residential and $16.74 for commercial to $17.93, and they will no longer distinguish between residential and commercial use. The average water bill will increase by $2.05 a month, he said, and he suggested the council look at the rates again in two years.
Richards also suggested charging a late fee, which the town presently does not do, and he said someone had suggested a senior rate, but the council had not previously discussed a senior rate.
“It is important to point out, this is the first rate increase in ten years,” said Councilman Tom Poscharsky. “I’m in favor of it and I think we need to get into a routine of regular increases.” He then moved to adopt the rate schedule, and his motion passed unanimously.
In other action July 24, the council:
* Unanimously approved Resolution No. 12-012, adopting the $10,116,090 budget for the town of Snowflake for fiscal year 2012-13.
A public hearing on the budget was held at the beginning of the regular council meeting, but no public com-ments were made.
* Unanimously approved Resolution No. 12-014, supporting regional coal generating power plants, including Cholla Power Plant at Joseph City.
Watson explained that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule relating to regional haze, which overrides certain parts of the State of Arizona’s plan to deal with the same issue, but the technical details have not been released and it is felt there is not sufficient time for interested parties to ade-quately review and provide input by the July 31 public hearing and Aug. 31 written comments deadline. It also requested that there be public hearings held in local affected areas, rather than just the one that is scheduled in Phoenix. The resolution requests the comment period be extended.