PINEDALE – The Pinedale Town Council on Tuesday passed the second reading of Ordinance 487, which will raise water and sewer rates 25 percent if adopted following approvals through a third reading.
The ordinance was part of a meeting that largely focused on water, as the talk of raised rates inevitably led to water meters and beyond.
“I’ve been getting a lot of gripes,” council member Nylla Kunard reiterated, following a similar statement she made at the meeting two weeks ago. “I try to explain what’s going on. I had two people tell me we’re trying to drive the businesses out of town.”
Kunard said she told concerned residents the rate hikes are “imperative” and encouraged a newsletter to better inform the public, which other council members said they were open to.
“I think the residents in the town need to have a seat at the table,” Mayor Steve Smith said. “We’re still well below the statewide average for water and sewer services.”
Again, Smith stressed the 25 percent increase raises rates marginally for many residents and landowners. For example, the number comes out to $30 per quarter and $10 per month for residences.
Still, some meeting attendees disliked the measures.
Incoming council member Tim Lingle, in particular, wanted to know why Stepwise Utilities had mentioned a 17.5 percent average annual increase a couple months ago, whereas now the town has jumped to 25 percent.
However, Smith and Town Engineer Eugene Ninnie explained the 25 percent increase is meant to get the town into compliance with a state mandate that requires water and sewer funds to be self-sustaining.
“We need the 25 percent to account for all the additional costs of chemicals, overhead, the maintenance of the facilities, everything,” Ninnie said. “Costs have gone up tremendously, especially electricity.”
Other attendees also had questions about loopholes in the system and questioned the need for some of the infrastructure improvements. Council members said the improvements would be re-analyzed.
The cost and importance of some of the water and wastewater infrastructure was evident, though, with approximately $150,000 of motions approved earlier in the meeting.
The SCADA, or supervisory control and data acquisition, system, which has been a point of contention since October, was approved with change orders for $102,117.
The original plan, finalized in January, was amended with a separate group of towers now planned for Mount Airy rather than Skyline Drive.
The move is expected to fix communication problems involving the town’s water supply. The Pinedale Public Works Department needs to be able to monitor water chemical levels and regulate the flow of water around town and between facilities, Pinedale Water Supervisor Alan Svalberg explained at an October Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.
The council also approved an amount not to exceed $24,000 to purchase a truckload of magnesium nitrate. The chemicals will help maintain healthy pH and alkalinity levels.
The wastewater treatment plant also required motions for new lamps, aerators, etc. for $24,000.
The next water and sewer rate public meeting will be held on July 26. The town will be providing more details to the public closer to the meeting date.
Also at the meeting:
• Community clean-up day will be held on June 9. Groups can sign up with the town.
• Town of Pinedale representatives will meet with the Sublette County Board of Commissioners on June 15 at 10 a.m. in the Commissioner’s room to discuss a new golf clubhouse. The meeting will be open to the public.
• Smith thanked outgoing council member Michael Kudar for his year and a half serving on the town council, and welcomed incoming member Tim Lingle, who was sworn in today at 8:30 a.m.
• The next meeting is scheduled for June 11 at 5:30 p.m.For the complete article see the 06-01-2012 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 06-01-2012 paper.