By Lucas Vader
As per Resolution 2020-08, the Town of Orchard City voted a small water cost price bump into effect for next year. According to the drafted letter from Town Administrator Melissa Oelke, this is the first time the town is doing this since 2017.
“The rates are expected to increase the monthly utility bill for the average household usage of 6,300 gallons per month which will see an increase by about $2.04 inside town limits and $2.30 outside town limits per month,” the letter stated.
The rate increase is due to the largely and frequently recommended 3.69% increase statewide. The purpose is to protect and build up the water capital construction fund for future improvement projects. Customarily so, the Town of Cedaredge passed its own similar water rate increase last month.
In simpler terms, water rates increase consistent with inflation.
The rates, which will go into effect with the new year, were approved by everyone on the board except Trustee Jan Gage, who stated that she didn’t feel enough warning was being given to the residents of Orchard City.
“I just have to ask again, in the situation that the country and the state and the Town of Orchard City are in right now, why do we have to be rushing to put in this water rate increase?” Gage asked. “Why don’t we give the people a minimum, I would say, of six months notice, and then put it through if that’s what you think you have to do?”
Gage’s argument was not met with agreement by the other trustees, who didn’t feel a $2-3 increase needed six months of warning. After discussing providing either a 60- or 90-day warning, the board did eventually pass the resolution for the rates to go into effect in January.
As per Gage’s recommendation, however, Oelke agreed that the letter notifying residents of the change, which is going out in the current payment cycle, would bear red text on the front to grab attention so that “it doesn’t look like junk mail,” as Gage put it.