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Water rate increase upsets some residents

Two residents attended Tuesday’s Park Rapids City Council meeting to express frustration about upcoming water rate increases.

The council had the first reading of an ordinance reflecting water rate adjustments beginning January of 2014.

Park Rapids resident Dick Rutherford said he had done extensive research and wondered why people were paying for something that is caused by farms surrounding the city.

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.

Studies have shown that fertilizers can cause high nitrate levels.

Rutherford said he thought that the farms should pay part of the fee.

Resident Jim Stengrim also spoke to the council Tuesday night.

He expressed frustration with getting information about the proposed water rate increase. He also argued that the correct term should be “rate base” instead of “base rate.”

Stengrim wanted the council to communicate better with the public and update its website so it would be easier to find information about upcoming meetings and past meeting minutes.

The city is in the process of updating its website.

The council moved forward with the first reading of the ordinance. City engineer Brian Hiles presented some different scenarios to increase the water rate at a meeting earlier this fall.

The council decided to go with 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.

The council will have a second reading of the ordinance in December and the rate change will begin Jan. 1.

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.

The water treatment plant is still under construction. It is expected to be up and running for testing by February.

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