Menahga solidifies water, sewer rate increases
Menahga finalized its new sewer and water rates at the city council meeting Monday night. The board has been debating the new rates for months. In 2006, the city will be bonding for a new sewer pond, to be funded in part by the new usage rates. S...
Menahga finalized its new sewer and water rates at the city council meeting Monday night.
The board has been debating the new rates for months. In 2006, the city will be bonding for a new sewer pond, to be funded in part by the new usage rates.
Starting Jan. 15, the base rate for water will be $13.40 per connection, with a usage fee of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. For sewer, the base rate will be $12.45, with a usage fee of $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. The new rates will appear on bills received in February.
"We have figured these six ways to Sunday," said Menahga city clerk Teri Osterman. "This is a huge improvement from where we started."
Most recently, the council considered a base rate of $17 each for sewer and water, with $2.30 per 1,000 gallons used for both.
"By raising the (per) unit price, we lowered the base a little," said mayor Tom Larson.
"It's the price per unit that's assuring conservation," Osterman said.
Council member Loren Tolkkinen provided example monthly costs with the new rates. With the base rate and 3,500 gallons use, a monthly water and sewer bill would be $34.60 total.
The council discussed creating an ordinance about water and sewer usage. Included in the proposed ordinance, which will be presented for approval at January's board meeting, is a note that if sewer and water lines run past a home or building, that structure is required to hook up.
In other business, the council:
- Set the tax levy at $285,617. In previous years, the council has set the levy increase at $10,000, but this year it only increased $5,000.
- Discussed the Pay Equity Implementation Report from the Minnesota Department of Employee Relations. The last report Menahga filed was in 2000; the next is due Jan. 31, 2006.
Tolkkinen compared 2005 city salaries from Menahga to other similar-sized cities in the area, and wondered why some of the salaries are not comparable.
"We revamped utilities, we revamped streets... and 2005 figures have no cost of living on them, so we're trying to compare 2005 to what we're going to be paying in 2006. They're going to be a little ways apart," said Osterman. "I don't want to sit around and say, 'We should pay this person this,' I want to have a sound basis as to how we come to this conclusion."
"Part of the reason you're doing this is to correct problems in the past, but why not change our Menahga's target midpoint and give someone credit for time served and move them higher on the scale," Tolkkinen said.
"So, basically we'd have to go back to the drawing board with (the administration committee) to refigure these," Osterman said.
Later, she added, "Every one of you has had the pay equity packet since August. I'm a little frustrated I spent three meetings with (the administration committee) on pay equity and now I bring it back and I have to start all over," Osterman said.
The board requested to invite a representative from Laumeyer and Associates of Duluth, the firm that conducted the study in July, to a special December meeting to give insight into the study's results. The meeting has not yet been scheduled.
- Heard from George Young of Young Construction in Walker. Young said he received a $17,500 fine for late completion of the Menahga Development Corporation's Fifth Addition project.
Young Construction was awarded the bid at the August 2003 board meeting and began the project that fall. The project deadline was originally set at Oct. 31, 2003, but was not done until May 6, 2004.
Young said his company's part of the project (including pipe work and excavation) was done by the 2003 deadline, but his subcontractor had a problem with the Class 5 gravel. Because the gravel had to be modified, it took longer to create, thereby extending the project.
The council assessed liquidated damages as stated in the contract and sent Young a letter in August of this year.
"We figured there were going to be penalties, but not 15 months afterward," Young said. "To me, that's quite a lapse in communication."
The council agreed to talk with Ulteig Engineers to verify the project dates and determine responsibility.