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Mabton Council raises utility rates

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Mabton Police Chief Rick Gutierrez (far left) explains the process for dealing with nuisances in the city as council members Mark Gourneau and Sophie Sotelo look on.

MABTON - The Mabton City Council voted 5-0 last night to impose an across the board monthly $3 increase for water and sewer services in the city.

The city is in the process of renovating its water and sewer treatment plant and the extra funds will go a long way in helping the renovation get started.

Councilman Mario Martinez reported to the council that with the new hike in fees the city should start putting between 10 and 15 percent of water and sewer revenues into a reserve fund. This was information he received at a recent AWC city workshop.

The increase means a household in Mabton with a 3/4 inch or smaller water pipe will pay a minimum of $23.35 for service. Seniors will pay $18.35.

Overage charges will stay the same at $1.24 up to 402 cubic feet and $1.28 for anything over 938 cubic feet.

A household with a one-inch water pipe will see their basic charges increase to $24.49 a month. Seniors will have their rates increased to $16.59.

The monthly sewer charge for residents will rise from $31.06 a month to $34.06. Seniors will see their sewer bills go up from $26.06 to $29.06.

The new rates will take effect on Nov. 1, 2010.

The council also reviewed ordinances the Sunnyside City Council has passed dealing with chronic nuisance properties, juvenile curfews and crime-free housing.

Mabton City Attorney Phil Lamb said he took a look at the ordinances and thought the chronic nuisance ordinance was worth taking a look at. He added that the ordinance would give police a tool to use to contact landlords and give them information about any problems happening on their properties. This in turn would arm the landlords with information as well as give the city a way to take action against the landlords if the property owners refuse to take action.

As for the curfew ordinance, Lamb said he doesn't recommend council adopting it, saying he doesn't think it would stand up to a challenge from the ACLU.

Lamb informed the council that an attorney representing Sunnyside told him the ACLU was working on a response to the curfew ordinance in Sunnyside.

Councilwoman Oping Hutson said the city of Mabton already has a curfew ordinance, but Lamb said it isn't used.

As for the crime-free housing ordinance, which would require landlords to buy a license from the city or take a course instead, was found to be too burdensome for the small staff at Mabton City Hall.

Martinez agreed.

Mabton Police Chief Rick Gutierrez said when he was working in Selah the police department there mailed out letters when they needed help from a landlord. He said it worked in Selah and currently there isn't a chronic problem area in Mabton.

The letters would detail the problems to the landlord or property owner. The letters would also ask for their help.

Council decided not to adopt any of the Sunnyside ordinances and instead directed Gutierrez to work on developing a form letter and submit it to council at the next meeting. Council wants to try this method before adopting a nuisance ordinance.

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