To the Editor:
The Rockford City Council and staff have been reviewing our capital improvement plan for the next 5 years. The plan includes the replacement of old water and sanitary sewer mains throughout the city and improving street pavement at the same time. In order to finance these projects and provide these services, we must increase our rates. Each year we pay thousands of dollars to repair water main breaks in areas where the mains should be replaced. The cost for each water main break can range from $5,000 to $10,000 and this is just a band aid approach. The MN Pollution Control Agency has also mandated that we make some changes to our wastewater treatment operations, which includes limits to the phosphorus and is going to cost us over $1 million.
The city council has been very conservative with our water rates for the past 10 years. However, with the operational costs of providing this essential service continuing to increase we have no other choice but to increase our rates. The water and sewer funds operate as a business and need to cover operational expenses, maintenance costs and expansion projects.
At the April 23rd city council meeting the council approved an 8% increase in water and sewer rates, which amounts to $.40 per 1,000 gallons of sewer and $.24 per 1,000 gallons of water. The city council also established a 3,000-gallon minimum per month for water. The dollar amount translates for a 3,000-gallon user to $30.47 per month, an increase of $1.95 per month or $23.40 per year.
There will be no change to the sewer base rate each month which is $4.25 per single family/townhomes, apartments and mobile homes base rate is $3.40. The city council is responsible for making these decisions and we did not make them lightly, we held three workshop meetings to review and discuss these upgrades and how we will finance them.
Thank you for your support and for making Rockford a great place to live.