Water rate issues main concern at Dierks City Council meeting



    DIERKS – The Dierks City Council not only held their regular monthly meeting on Monday evening, but also called a special meeting concerning water, sewer, and sanitation rate increases to be held the following night.
    At Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting, two main points were discussed.
    Mayor Terry Mounts relayed to the council that Dierks will not receive government money for “disaster relief.” The council was hoping to receive government funds to repair damage at the park that was caused by the recent thunderstorms, but it was determined that the damage was not extensive enough to warrant receiving help from the government.
    Following this news, the mayor gave a short report on the sewer lagoon that the city has been anticipating.
    He began by stating that the ADEQ requires the sewer lagoon to be completed by Dec. 31 of this year. However, two steps must be taken beforehand: The council must submit a water / sewer rate increase proposal to Stephens Financial Services in Little Rock, and the city must pay CEA contractors the remaining $12,500 for their services. The mayor asked permission to take the $12,500 from the city’s general fund to pay the engineers. Councilwoman Carol Sharp made a motion to give the mayor permission to take money from the general fund, Councilwoman Debbie Brock seconded, and the motion passed unanimously.
    To end the meeting, Mayor Mounts called for a special meeting to take place the following night at 5:30 p.m. The items of discussion at this special meeting included water, sewer, and sanitation rate increases.
    At this meeting, Mounts stated that the city is currently making a $40,000 yearly payment for the water plant, but must make a $70,000 yearly payment for its upgrade. However, the income from the current water rates is not enough to make this payment. For the first time since 2007, the city must implement a water rate increase in order to compensate for this $30,000 raise. The water rate will increase from $15 to $15.50 for a 1,000 gallon minimum. Every thousand gallons over this will increase from $3.66 to $4. At 604 water meters, this should increase the water department revenue by $2,416 per month, or $28,992 per year. According to Mayor Mounts, the sewer rates, which are included in the water bill, must be raised as well. The 1,000 gallon minimum will increase to $17, and every thousand gallons over will increase to $3.60. On 466 customers, this should increase revenue by $1,677 per month, or $20,131 per year. This brings the total increase in revenue per year to $49,123. Councilman John Sharp stated that he used these figures to predict that these new rates would increase his bill by about $8. Starting in 2017, the city hopes to implement a smaller percentage increase to the water and sewer rates each year. Finally, the mayor discussed the sanitation department, which brought in no income in December. The department spent $10,084, while it only brought in $7,331.50, totaling a deficit of $2,700. To remedy this, the city must implement a rate increase of $2 per year for five years.
    To end the meeting, the mayor asked the wishes of the council, and a motion was made and passed unanimously to implement these rate increases. However, the increases will not be effective until the proposal is sent to and approved by Stephens, Inc in Arkansas. Mayor Mounts confirmed that this could take about two months.

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