A 14-year oversight in a waste water treatment agreement will be corrected in 2009, as the City of Eminence will increase waste water treatment rates for the City of Pleasureville.
Pleasureville, however, has said it will not pass that rate increase along to its customers.
The agreement was signed in 1994 between the two cities, and initially was subject to review every two years. That review process fell through the cracks.
The issue first came to light in an Eminence City Council meeting earlier this year, when City Clerk Sandra Doane discussed the issue with the council.
At the time, she told the council that Eminence charges Pleasureville $1.27 per 1,000 gallons of sewage each month. At the time, Doane recommended the council raise the rate to $1.83 — a 56-cent increase, which she said represents a 4-cent increase for each of the 14 years of the contract.
Doane said she used a formula similar to the one that had been used to determine the original rate. “I took these figures to our CPA to make sure I was not looking at something incorrectly, and doing an injustice to (Pleasureville),” she said.
The figure represents a 44 percent increase over the current, 14-year-old rate. And while the Pleasureville rate has remained unchanged, Eminence sewer rates have increased in the last 14 years.
Doane said Eminence Mayor Jim Petitt was one reason the Pleasureville contract came to light.
“Since he’s been a full time mayor, he’s been looking into things ... and has more time to say ‘hey, this is something we need to put a priority on,” she said.
In the course of reviewing the contract, representatives from both cities have met to iron out a new agreement.
Doane said based on her figures, Pleasureville would pay about $700 more per month for sewer service, or about $2 per customer. She said that during discussions with Pleasureville, however, the city was not inclined to pass that cost along. “I would dare say that most individuals waste $2 a month, but that’s not for me to say,” Doane said. “There may be some people that don’t even have $2 to spare.
Pleasureville City Clerk Verna Stivers said the city already has some of the highest sewer rates in the county — just one reason raising the rates by $2 was not considered an option. Currently, Pleasureville residents pay $24.65 for the first 2,000 gallons, $18 for the next 2,000 gallons, and $16 for each 2,000 gallons beyond that. Add on a $13.49 trash collection fee, and the average Pleasureville bill is about $45, Stivers said.
By comparison, Eminence customers currently pay a minimum sewer rate of $10.56 for the first 2,000 gallons, and the next 48,000 gallons are charged at a rate of $5.29 per 1,000 gallons.
Pleasureville collects the payments from its customers, and then pays Eminence for the city’s usage. Stivers said the city is trying to find a way to not pass the increase along to customers — a move that she indicated would be a last resort.
“The city is not inclined to pass that cost along to residents,” she said. “We just feel like our rates are so high already, that we ... just want to try every avenue. (Raising rates) is going to be our last option – there are so many people over here on a fixed income.”
Doane said that Pleasureville should consider raising rates to some degree, in part to prepare for the next time rates have to be raised.
The Eminence City Council already has directed Doane and Petitt to execute the contract and increase as soon as possible, and indicated in one meeting they would like to see it done by January 2009, if at all possible. Doane indicated that would be ambitious, saying “it’s going to be July 1, anyway.”
“I can see my council’s point, too,” she added. “(Pleasureville’s) gotten the cheaper rate for 14 years. If we had been doing this each year, it could be more than that.”
So what will prevent review of the contract from falling through the cracks again?
“I don’t think my council will let it fall through the cracks again,” Doane said. She also noted that while the contract says the “charges will be subject to review every two years, or to annual review at the discretion of either City,” just who is directly responsible isn’t clear.
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