PINEDALE – Water and sewer rates could be rising for Pinedale residents again this July, pending budget workshops and a town ordinance passing, according to a report at Monday’s Pinedale Town Council meeting.
Last July, rates were raised 25 percent to get the town closer to complying with a state statute that mandates towns’ water and sewer systems be self-sustaining with consumer-paid rates.
Currently, Pinedale water users pay for 13 percent of water services and 12 percent of sewer services, a water workshop revealed earlier this month. To get closer to compliance, the town might pursue a similar hike this year, Pinedale Treasurer and Clerk Patty Racich told the council.
“It was a year ago we raised water and sewer rates 25 percent. To get our funds moved toward the direction of the funding we’ll need, I would like to see them raised in July again [by] 25 percent. That would get us in a position that when the water meter study is done, then our general fund won’t need as much money to support our water and sewer fund,” she said.
To cover the costs not encompassed by residential and commercial rates, the town has been using a combination of grants and money from the general fund. In 2010, Pinedale spent $3 million in general fund subsidies.
Another 25 percent increase, if passed, would lessen the burden on the general fund while the town works toward a long-term solution toward compliance, as well as $11 million in planned infrastructure projects over the next decade.
If Pinedale doesn’t come into compliance, the town could be looking at several repercussions. Most notably, the state could withhold grants and low-interest loans it has provided in the past, which will become more pivotal as the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency require infrastructure improvements.
The potential rate hike was discussed at a budget workshop on Wednesday, and town attorney Ed Wood will draft an ordinance for consideration at a future council meeting. An ordinance must go through three readings before being passed into law.
The Pinedale Public Works Department will provide an overview on costs associated with running water and sewer.
Last year, Racich said, cards informed residents of the change. A similar system would be used this year.
Also at the meeting:
• Town council approved the Sublette County Sheriff’s Office contract for services for the next year.
• Bids will be considered for installing wayfinding signs, which Planning and Zoning Administrator Kate Grimes said she hoped could be in place before Rendezvous.
Preliminary research shows installation, including concrete work, could cost around $24,000.
• Annual crosswalk and curb painting earned approval from the council for a price not to exceed $3,500. The work should be completed by July 1.
• The council approved a motion to accept bids for a new auditor. Because the town receives a certain amount of federal funding, most of which goes to the airport, Pinedale must go through an auditing process each year.
This year, the auditor is extremely “late,” leading to the search for bids.
• The conditional use permit for Happy Endings Animal Rescue to kennel up to 10 cats at an open location near the intersection of South Fremont Avenue and East Mill Street will be considered at a later meeting.
The council wanted to allow time for all nearby residents to be notified and have the chance to offer feedback.
“I would like to see a solicited request from the town to those individual property owners. I think before we approve something, we need to make sure everyone surrounding knows exactly what we’re talking about,” Mayor Steve Smith said.
• The Sage and Snow Garden Club will receive $5,000 – $2,500 out of the park and tree board’s budget now and $2,500 out of the town’s budget starting July 1 for a contract of services – for barrel water and maintenance this growing season.
The club will maintain approximately 180 barrels this year, complete with new plants and total soil replacement.
• The next meeting is scheduled for May 14 at 5:30 p.m.For the complete article see the 04-27-2012 issue.
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