CLINTON — Sewer rates for Clinton residents will be on the rise again after City Council members gave first approval of a 9.5 percent increase Tuesday.
The increase will bring the sewer rate from $8.18 to $8.96 per unit for residential customers.
Five of the six present council members voted in favor of the increase with At-Large Councilman John Rowland casting the dissenting vote. At-Large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf was absent.
Before council members could vote on the increase, two Clinton residents, Stewart Barr and Linda Ramsey, asked why their sewer bills would rise, and how the city got into the situation where the increases were necessary.
“My belief is it was a lack of responsibility throughout our entire city government; lack of communication, pure incompetence,” Barr said. “The question that has to be asked is ‘will the increase in sewer tax fix what has caused this problem?’”
The rate increase is part of the city’s plan to make the sewer fund financially solvent. A representative with the firm the city hired to examine the cash flow for the sewer fund originally called for a 25 percent increase to take place in January and another 15 percent increase for July, but the city was able to avoid the January increase and decrease the July bump. The plan as it currently stands is to increase rates by 9.5 percent for billing dates after July 1, which the council approved. Two more 9.5 percent increases also are on the horizon for July 2014 and July 2015.
Rowland pointed out how much sewer rates have already climbed in the past three years, which he pegged at 50.2 percent. In response to the citizens that asked council members why the rate increases are necessary, he called attention to Clinton’s largest capital project and the mandates from the DNR and EPA in the long-term control plan.