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Modest sewer rate increase OK'd by Grandview councilmen

GRANDVIEW - The City of Grandview may be facing a budget crunch in 2005, but it won't mean any stiff increases in water and sewer rates for local utility users.

Monday night, Grandview City Council sat down with Ted Pooler of Huibregtse, Louman Associates, Inc. to discuss whether or not a rate increase would be needed in the coming year.

Before talking to Pooler, the Council had planned to implement a modest 6.5 percent sewer rate increase in 2005, but no water rate increase. Pooler supported the city's proposal.

He noted that even with some of the capital improvements the city was looking at making in the future, the rate increases already approved by Council should be enough to cover the cost.

One of the capital improvements the city is looking at is the installation of an automated meter reading system. Public Works Director Cus Arteaga noted that will likely cost the city about $500,000 to completely switch over to the new system. He added that the new system would mean it would take workers less time to take meter readings, as well as lower the chance for injury to meter readers because they would no longer have to leave their vehicles to get a reading. Instead, the meter reader would be able to take the readings from their vehicle using a laptop computer.

Arteaga asked that Council create a capital reserve fund to put aside money to pay for the implementation of the automated system.

"You do not need to increase rates in that fund if you want to do it," Pooler said of implementing the automated meter reading system in the water and sewer departments.

Council members decided they would set aside $100,000 a year over the next five years to pay for the new meter reading system. The first allotment should allow Arteaga to purchase the software needed to get the system started, as well as purchase hundreds of new meters.

Other capital projects budgeted for in 2005 that fall under the headings of water and sewer includes some work to several city wells, including a pump replacement on well three and well improvements to well four. Arteaga also asked council for several capital items for the wastewater treatment plant, including the purchase of a 10-year dump truck, 700 feet of cyclone fencing and a 60-by-40-foot storage building.

At this point, all of the items have been included in the 2005 budget.

Grandview City Council will likely approve the final 2005 budget during its next regular meeting, set to take place Monday, Dec. 6.

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