The dozens of ordinances, policies, rules, rates and fees that make up the governing structure of Orchard City's water utility will quit changing only if the water ever quits flowing.
The town's trustees heard first reading of two ordinances on May 9 that will change water regulations back to what they were before they were changed the first time.
One would eliminate the town's water conveyance policy, and a second would allow for sale of a town water tap without first purchasing a town building permit. The town board will hold hearings and likely act on the ordinances at its June 13 meeting.
A request for a variance from the water conveyance requirement on the Benson Brothers Subdivision was the trigger for a move to eliminate conveyance altogether. Water conveyance, first adopted by the town in 2004, now requires that subdividers creating new lots must give the town raw water to serve them. The Benson brothers want to subdivide, creating a lot with no water tap.
The proposed policy change would end conveyance and require that the town deposit $2,500 for each new water tap sold into a town raw water acquisition fund. The change would also have the effect of lowering both inside and outside tap fees by $2,500.
There is disagreement on the issue. Trustee Jan Gage at a May 2 work session said she wasn't comfortable with eliminating the policy that provides for the town's future water security. Her view was endorsed by former mayor Tom Huerkamp on May 9 when he told trustees the change threatens the town's financial health.
Trustee Jimmie Boyd pointed out that the town's water supply is adequate in average water years. But he also agreed with Jan Gage that a string of low water years could stress those supplies.
Others, including trustees Gale Doudy and Craig Fuller, said they were never in favor of the water conveyance rule. One of the reasons stated is that it raises the cost of water for everyone, including farmers, by creating additional demand in the marketplace. Doudy said the policy was adopted to control growth before the town had a building department for that purpose, and so the conveyance policy is now unneeded.
Mayor Don Suppes said his view is that water conveyance was adopted to deal with drought. Higher water rates were adopted by a former council to control growth, he added.
The cost-increasing effect of conveyance on ag water was discussed in 2004, but the policy was adopted anyway. Now, it is the main reason given for doing away with the requirement.
The town staff and some trustees thought that lowering the water tap fees would help the town sell more taps. Others disagreed, citing general economic conditions for the lack of water tap sales.
At the board's May 9 meeting, Dwight and Ed Benson said they would wait and see what the trustees decide at their June meeting before deciding how to proceed on their pending subdivision application and variance request.
A second proposed change in the town's water policy up for action in June will allow lot owners to purchase a town water tap and have it installed before they buy a building permit.blog comments powered by Disqus