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Water rates to increase in Park Rapids

By Anna Erickson

Water rates will increase in January in Park Rapids but consumers won’t see a difference on their bills until April.

City engineer Brian Hiles presented some different scenarios to increase the water rate at meeting earlier this fall. A higher increase in the base rate or usage rate can change the way customers’ bills are affected.

After some time to think about the rates, the council agreed Tuesday night to approve a 25 percent increase to the base fee and an increase in the usage rate from $3.15 to $3.99 per 1,000 gallons up to 15,000 gallons. Usage rates increase as people use more water.

Councilwoman Erika Randall said she thought this was the most fair across the board.

The council will need to pass an ordinance to change water rates and have first and second readings at the next two council meetings. Rates will change beginning January of 2014.

Since the city uses a quarterly billing process, users won’t see the increase until the first quarterly billing in April.

Based on 1,400 users, the rate increases will mean the city will see about $116,582 in additional revenue.

Water rates are increasing due to the construction of a water treatment plant on the west side of town.

The water treatment plant will help the city combat high nitrate levels in water.

Hiles said the project is moving along. Filters will be on site in November and the control panel will be put in sometime in December. He expects it will be up and running for testing by February.

In other business, the council:

n Approved a contract for the check diversion program between the city and Human Achievement and Performance Academy. Local businesses use this program instead of having cases prosecuted. It has been successful in educating people who have written bad checks in the past.

n Approved a Conditional Use Permit to allow installation of an additional microwave antenna with ice shields and mounting equipment and cables on City Hall. The applicant is SMJ International on behalf of AT&T.

n Approved a labor agreement between the city and Public Works employees.

It is a three-year contract effective Jan. 1, 2014 through Dec. 31, 2016.

Wages will be a 2 percent increase in 2014, 2.5 percent increase in 2015 and a 3 percent increase in 2016. This is the same as the police contract.

Insurance will be discussed once there is more information about costs and networks in the area.

The uniform allowance will remain at $375 per year in 2014. In 2015, the city will be open to renegotiate and possibly raise the allowance to $425 if employees are interested in wearing more clothing with the city logo.

If an employee has accrued 125 days (1,000 hours) in the sick bank, the employee will be able to set aside hours in a catastrophic sick bank (up to an additional 480 hours). This bank can only be used for serious illness or injury and they do not get paid out for this time in the event of resignation or retirement. This is also the same as the police contract.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561