City passes rate increase on water usage -- Catawba Street closed till further notice

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Pictured above Left to right: Mayor Panhorst, Steve Roth, Charles Hurth, and Tori Panhorst discuss the proposed water usage rate increase.

Last night The New Haven Board of Aldermen held their monthly scheduled public meeting Mon., Sept. 12, 2011.  The board discussed several proposed ordinances and approved various items throughout the meeting.  All members were present with the exception of Alderwoman Melissa Venardos.

The hot topic of last month's meeting focused on what actions should be taken regarding the condition of Catawba Street.  Julius Gatzemeyer began the discussion saying they had placed “road-closed” signs on both ends of Catawba street.  Mayor George Panhorst asked if the city had received any phone calls about the street being closed, Gatzemeyer said, “I had received one” and Tori Panhorst said, “I have received one complaint, but I have never spoke with the individual because he calls while I am at work and leaves a message.”  The board discussed this topic in great extent, proposing several options.

Gatzemeyer said, “It would cost the city anywhere from 1,000 to 1,500 dollars simply to make the road safe to drive on.  This amount does not include the time needed to regularly maintain the street.”  The board felt tax dollars could better spent improving other streets in the city that would better serve the citizens at this point and time.

The motion was made by Alan Bell to "temporarily close Catawba Street for public safety until further notice."  The motion was seconded and unanimously approved to “temporally close Catawba Street for public safety until further notice.”

Mayor Panhorst said if a property owner along Catawba Street would want to build, than we would readdress the issue at such time.  Mayor Panhorst said, “I feel we do have an obligation to a property owner who would want to build on their property along Catawba Street we would make sure to work with them”

Steve Roth introduced a bill to increase the wastewater usage charge. The current charge of $2.46 per thousand-volume charge has remained the same since 2000.  Roth said, “The proposed rates are intended to generate approximately 60,000 dollars annually for the system. The additional revenue is needed to fund the Lift Station 1 and 2 replacement / relocation project, which is being paid in part by a federal grant.”

Roth further explained the reason behind the increase.  Roth said they have spent their sewer fund on several important projects over the past few years maintaining and upgrading the sewer system.  Roth said they would be embarking on a very large project replacing lift stations 1 and 2.  He also wants to rebuild the sewer fund to allow for a cushion in the event something unexpected would occur needing immediate repairs. The cushion would allow the city to make these repairs without preventing other planned maintenance from being effected.

The current rate for the first 100,000 gallons used is $2.46 per one thousand gallons will be increased to $3.09.  If water usage exceeds 100,000 gallons a rate of $2.71 per thousand gallons will be charged.

The minimum monthly charge of $8.00 per month will be for those users of the city water system located inside the corporate limits of the city. This is a two-dollar increase from the previous minimum charge.  Those who live outside the corporate limits of the city will be charged a minimum of $12.00.

Roth said, “The current wastewater balance is only around 6,000 dollars. We have had a very low sewer rate for many years.  Even with the new rate, we are still quite low compared to other area cities and water/sewer districts.”

For example Gerald charges a rate of $4.00 and Sullivan an even higher rate of $6.03.  Both are based on per thousand gallons of usage, the same as New Haven’s rate base.

The Bill to revise wastewater user charges was passed unanimously. The official date for the increased rates has not been officially determined.   

In the Mayor’s report Mayor Panhorst inquired about the status of park board members.  Tory Panhorst said the board was still in need of one more member. Mark Whner who was in attendance expressed his interest in severing on the board and after brief discussion among city officials; Whner was selected to serve on the park board.

The next New Haven Board of Aldermen meeting will be Mon., Oct. 10, 2011 at 7 p.m.