Fayette village council 2013.09.18

Fayette will likely turn to an outside agency for help with setting new water and sewer rates as council prepares to pay for the village’s share of sewer work.

At a Sept. 11 committee-of-the-whole meeting, council discussed hiring the Rural Community Assistance Partnership (RCAP) to undertake a rate study to show the best approach for setting sewer and water prices. Th e cost of the study is $8,500 and the contract would include conducting a public hearing to collect opinion and answer questions. Council is expected to vote on the proposal at the Sept. 25 meeting.

Council member Julia Ruger pointed out that former village administrator Amy Metz had a rate increase schedule in place several years ago.

Current village administrator Steve Blue spoke about a discussion with RCAP’s Roberta Acosta in which she pointed out that a blanket rate increase is not likely fair to all water users. Someone with a small household might be affected by an increase more than a larger user. Similarly, the largest user—the TRW company— might receive an increase that could make the company think about relocating to another community.

RCAP will recommend having a small, annual increase built into the schedule.

“That should have been done 30 years ago,” Ruger said.

Blue agreed, but he said that past council members didn’t want to increase rates.

Ruger wondered if RCAP will take into consideration the rates in surrounding communities. Blue said that’s not something the agency will want to do.

“We have to charge enough to support ourselves,” Blue said. “And even if we raise, we’re going to be relatively competitive with all the surrounding areas.”

The rate study will look at fairness and not charge more than residents are capable of paying, Blue said, but the village has to pay its bills. Assistance with water and sewer bills is available to some low-income people.

The cost of the rate study will likely be paid from the water and sewer fund.

Village CFO Lisa Zuver expressed her concern about the village having sufficient funds to make the first payment next July.

The village must pay $80,000 per year and $40,000 for the first year.

Ruger said she’s been asking from the start how the village is going to pay its share of the project. Zuver said she’s always given the same answer: Rates will have to be increased.

Council did increase rates a few years ago for one year, said councilor Scott Wagner, but then it backed down and canceled the increase. Zuver said the last increase in rates was put in place in 2004.

ROADS—Council discussed earmarking 25 percent of the levy that voters replaced last year for road maintenance. Replacing the levy—updating the tax to current property values rather than simply renewing the levy—increased annual revenue by $21,000.

If 25 percent of the levy were earmarked for road work, the fund would increase between $7,000 to $10,000 annually.

INSURANCE—Zuver said she learned from the company that provides health insurance for village workers to expect an increase next year of about 25 percent.

POLICE—Police chief Jason Simon reminded council of the existing policy against bringing an off-duty officer to work to assist someone locked out of a vehicle, except in an emergency. Simon noted that at times this can result in a wait of several hours unless a locksmith is obtained.

FIRE—Gorham Fayette fi re chief Bob Stillion requested to be notifi ed daily about road closures relating to the sewer project. A truck had to back up onto U.S. 20 recently because there was no closure sign posted. He also wants to be notified about water line breaks that could affect fire-fighting capabilities.

Tankers will automatically be sent to Fayette from other stations during the break. Stillion also spoke of plans to use the storage building on the front west side of the fire hall for a trailer used by the department.

Stillion wants to place a “no parking” sign east of the Razor’s Edge and cut the curb, if possible, for easier exit and entry.