Internal Operations Committee members discussed potential sewer billing rate structure at Tuesday’s meeting. A proposed five-tier rate structure for business waste may lay an unfair burden on some restaurant owners, committee members said.

Stanley Consultants presented a possible rate structure to the committee, based on studies of waste flow rates. The structure would divide businesses up into five categories, with the smallest offering comparable rates to households. The highest category, a five, would apply to large industries and restaurants, which can produce large quantities of grease.

Committee chairman Mark Vulich said the rate structure would affect even restaurant owners that utilize grease traps to control waste. This, he believes, would not be fair, as grease traps are expensive and difficult to install.

“If a person makes that huge expenditure, they shouldn’t pay as much as someone who says, ‘I don’t care,’” Vulich said.

City code requires new restaurants to build grease traps, but pre-existing buildings are grandfathered in.

Public Works Director Gary Schellhorn said restaurants that have grease traps aren’t necessarily reducing their waste flow. He said grease traps, when not properly maintained, become clogged and no longer prevent grease from washing into the sewer system.

Vulich proposed possibly lowering the rate for a grease-trap equipped restaurant from the fifth level to the fourth, contingent upon city inspections to ensure proper maintenance. Stanley Consultants will continue to evaluate the situation.

In other action, the committee:

• Tabled potential website redesign action at the suggestion of City Administrator Jeff Horne.

The cost of the new website could be as much as $50,000, which is an expense Horne said the city should probably wait on until the budget situation improves.

• Listened to an update on the web casting of city meetings.

The city has applied for a dedicated Youtube channel to broadcast city council meetings. The channel is necessary to be able to upload files large enough to show the entire meeting.

However, though government entities are eligible for a free channel, the processing time for Youtube to approve the request can take months. Though the city will have to wait an indeterminate amount of time for the service, Horne said he believes the potential for web casts has value.

“It’s just a way to reach more people,” Horne said.

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