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11/18/2010 6:01:00 AM
Council hikes rates on water, sewer services

James Chilton
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Perhaps acknowledging the inevitability of the decision, virtually no one from the community came out Tuesday evening to protest the City Council's decision to raise water and sewer rates for the third year in a row. But despite the lack of a vocal public opposition, the final vote was temporarily stymied by one councilman's attempt to save citizens a few bucks.

Council passed two rate hikes Tuesday night - one to raise the average residential sewer bill by about $8.02 per month, and the other to raise the average water bill by 57 cents per month. Members also approved new rates for expanded sanitation container sizes, meant to help out high-volume commercial customers. Both rate hikes are considered necessary by city staff in order to prove that the city can pay back its loans on various water and wastewater construction projects, most notably the rebuilding of the Hilltop and Downtown wastewater treatment plants, each of which has been deemed out of compliance with federal and state standards for nitrogen removal. If the city fails to correct the situation soon, it could face up to $25,000 in daily fines, plus a moratorium on all new building permits.

City Finance Director Coral Loyd stressed the point that new water and wastewater construction can only be legally paid for out of the city's water and sewer user fees, and not the general fund. But Councilman Dick Anderson proposed omitting the water increase altogether, arguing that city employees could simply reduce their municipal water usage to offset the need for the increase.

Anderson said the 57 cents per month worked out to about $140,000 per year for all city water customers. By cutting irrigation times and closely monitoring usage, he argued, city staff could more than make up the cost of the rate increase. He subsequently made a motion to approve the sewer increase, with the water increase reduced to zero.

But while Anderson's argument was well-meaning, he failed to win many converts. Vice Mayor Robin Gordon said that, while she appreciated Anderson's attempt to save money, she could not in good conscience sign off on an arbitrary cost-cutting measure without first having staff identify exactly how it would cut the $140,000 out of its water usage. City Manager Jack Kramer added that, since the city must have the sewer rate increase passed by the time it approaches the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority next month to go over its loan agreement, Council could not afford to delay the resolution to give staff time to draw up its cost-cutting proposals.

"The board is going to want our (financial) documents before we go to meet them on (December) 15th," Kramer said. "So, I would not recommend that at all. I don't think the board would appreciate that."

Councilwoman Janet Watson took an even firmer stance, all but accusing Anderson of political gamesmanship for waiting until the last possible moment to bring up the cost-cutting idea when Council had been discussing the rate increases for months prior to Tuesday's final vote.

"I'm dismayed by this whole discussion because we've been talking about this ordinance for months and months and months," Watson said. "The night we need to vote on it, you bring up this idea and throw it out on the table. I think it's inappropriate at the eleventh hour to ask for a change when our staff has been working on this. I think it's very unfair to our staff and to the Council as a whole to do it in this manner."

Gordon seconded Anderson's motion to keep the discussion going, but the measure ultimately failed by a 2-3 vote, with Carole Young the only other member voting with Anderson. Watson, Gordon and Mayor John Salem voted against it, with Keith Walker and Erin Cochran excused from the meeting.

Following the vote, Gordon made a motion to approve both rate hikes as presented, with Watson seconding. The motion passed unanimously.

Anderson's move was not without benefit - in order to help keep the Council better informed of the month-to-month water fund balance, Loyd said she would begin including expenses in addition to the revenue report she compiles each month, which will produce a rolling estimate of the fund balance for future reference.

Related Stories:
• Sewer rate hike might not be needed for Kingman customers
• Letter: Water rates need to applied fairly
• Final vote on higher wastewater rates today

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, August 6, 2014
Article comment by: jim monday

bad morning I am a disable vet I had both knees replaced @right shoulder @ going to have left one next soon I am 74 years old under doctors care ,I went to PRESCOTT V.A HOSP yesterday for my cancer check up in colon came home my water was turn off , at this time found out these people don't care or know anything about anyone . I got a bill on Monday night which I don't open till I got for PRESCOTT V.A. which was on the 5th same day off my appointment I was blank I have take shower everyday I just had my left knee replaced . I will pay this bill ,but the people of this town better wakeup this broad is using you @ poor family went do they put a cap on these unfair billing bullhead city did someone needs to check there books ??? like I said try and paid this bill ,BUT AZ it is a temperature LAW said they can't turn anyone water off or elec and so on look it up broad members I will bet no one has ? LOOK IT UP I did . I hope the editor of this news paper reads this better yet call me MAYBE YAH after im done with this I will call MR ATTORNEY THANK YOU CITY OF KINGMA WE KNOW YOU TREAT YOUR VETS JIM

Posted: Sunday, November 21, 2010
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

@V Stokes

"In the summer we use A/C condensate and swamp cooler purge water to do the plants."

That's cool. It's the little things that count. I have a/c and rarely use it, but I do have a very healthy vine plant I put right underneath the drain line where the condensation drips out. The highest water bill I have ever had was no more than 30 bucks. Just gotta be aware of the amount of water you are using. Things like keeping a jug of water in the fridge and not running the tap til it cools a bit before filling a glass. It never really "cools" anyway. LOL.

Posted: Saturday, November 20, 2010
Article comment by: yikes doubleyikes

As usual some get it and some don't.
For those of you that don't understand, Let me put it in layman's terms. No sewer treatment centers upgraded. No Kingman. 25,000.00 a day for over 9 million a year just in fines and no new anything built. Very soon there would be no safe water to drink much less bathe in and only the heavy duty filter systems that cost hundreds would clean it up enough to chance drinking it. Doubt me? Call ADEQ and ask them.
I am surprised they even continue to allow septic systems built in the area knowing that the added stress on the water table from leach fields could cause the existing problems to compound until rectified. No one wanted to do anything for the last 20 years to adjust for growth and now we pay the price. You can thank Monica Gates and Les Byram, (former Mayors) for that one. Don't let anyone tell you they did not know. Because we have people who have worked in the city for that long that reported the issue and were ignored.

It is not a matter of they did what they wanted. Because the Mayor and Council have to pay the rate hikes as well.

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010
Article comment by: V Stokes

@ Freedom lover
You must have a huge household. I shower every day, as does my wife...we run the dishwasher every few days and a load of laundry every other day. My bill was $66...
Have you checked your toilets?

In the summer we use A/C condensate and swamp cooler purge water to do the plants.

Old rule...if it's yellow..let it mellow...if it's brown flush it down.

This increase will be a hell of a lot better than possibly paying $25K PER DAY.

Erin...ignore these comments. Like none of them have ever called out sick in their lives.

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010
Article comment by: Freedom Lover

To Erin Cochran. Im sure you were in the hospital. Im sure Walker has an equally defensible excuse for not being there to represent his constituents. There is always a really good excuse that nobody can possibly argue with. I wonder, can I use the same when I go to the city building to ask them not to turn my water off because Ive lost my job and cannot afford to pay the $65+ water bill? Even though weve gone down to taking one shower a week each, flushing our toilet only a few times a day, putting gutters on my roof to trap rain water & using it to water the few, increasingly shriveling plants.
How much do we have to be told to tighten our belts even more, then to be told next year even more?
As far as assuming, you are right. I assumed that if I voted carefuly things would be different. I wonder, how would you have voted if you had been there?

Posted: Friday, November 19, 2010
Article comment by: JacqueLyn Petersen

It's like the Grinch that stole Christmas,but in the end their hearts grow smaller not larger. As far as all the new trucks and cars they bought, what ever happened to an old ford and a tune up? It sounds to me like some people are not willing to get their hands dirty.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: az mac

I see that people say it does not matter if you show up, they will do as they please. Enough showed up to change the number of dogs. If enough people get together things will change. Stay at home and do nothing, it will get worse.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Concerned Parent2

Why go to a meeting where what you say doesn't count anyway?

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Mona Lott

I for one applaud this decision by the council. Because . . . for those posters on this board who appear not to be able to read, I quote the article: "City Finance Director Coral Loyd stressed the point that new water and wastewater construction can only be legally paid for out of the city's water and sewer user fees, and not the general fund." So it seems to me that we were caught between a rock and a hard place. The rates had to be raised, or the water had to be used less (which Councilman Anderson alluded to) albeit late in the process.
Therefore it was a pretty good decision don't ya think?
And for those of you who make the brilliant observation that we live in a desert, and shouldn't grow things, need to realize that we each have a stake in making Kingman a more beautiful place. If someone chooses to plant grass, to make this happen, more power to them. Please live up to the Libertarian reputation we Arizonians have and don't try to tell people what to do. If we had it your way the parks would be devoid of plants, because we live in a desert?
I'm sure you could imagine how much better Kingman would look and feel if the city cemetery had grass, or our school yards had grass. I understand that there are native plants which require less water, but they still require some, and even more when young. So you see, council did the best thing for Kingman by keeping the water usage rates fairly stable and encouraging you to get off your duff and help make our town more aesthetically pleasing, while still managing to pay the bills - and without $25,000 in daily fines!
People on this board who always say that America needs to get their act together or face dire consequences need to be careful of the slippery slope that leads them to believe that everyone is blind but themselves. It is only a hop skip and jump from taking the law into their own hands. Can you say Timothy McVeigh?

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Erin Cochran

Freedom Lover-

I would have gladly been there had I not been in the hospital! I find it is always better to ask why something is before assuming you know the answer. You know what assuming does, right?

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Carl Bohn

This current debacle of the ongoing saga, now over water rates, smacks hard of the ancient days of Nimrod and his brick by brick civil uniformitarianism of his ill fated city of Babylon. As you look around you see the same signs - we are forced to be conformed to some ill contrived image some social engineer has deemed to us that we must become. This pressure is exerted primarily on our children in the schools and finally in our pocketbooks by "for the betterment of all" so the too lazy to haves will have most of what the work too hard haves are having stolen from them by unfettered fiscal irresponsibility

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: City Officials Are Idiots

You morons are not in deserving of your positions.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Frank Lee Speaking

We live in the desert. Water is a precious commodity. I treat it as such. I have no b***h about the rate increase. I have kept my water bill down to a 20 buck average since buying my home. Even on my very limited income the increase is not a even close to being an issue. My opinion is that if someone here in the desert is stupid enough to be maintaing a big green law....... sucks to be you. Consider getting rid of it or drilling your own well for thousands and thousands of bucks.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: just sayin

I drive by the county building and new jail every morning and there is water running into the street. Maybe you can start cutting costs right there!!!!!!!!!

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Biased vote ?

They can make a BIG decision like this when 2 city council members are absent?

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: Freedom Lover

Erin Cochran doesn't even bother to show up? She's no different than the other council members.

The whole council is as usless as they come.

No one showed up because no matter what you say, they don't hear it anyway.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: No moniker

I for one am not surprised at the few people that showed up for the meeting. I saw first hand in Las Vegas what a waste of time it is to show up at these type of meetings, the utilities almost always get what they want regardless of the feelings or availability of money people have to pay a rate hike. It's time to trim the fat city of Kingman, it's time for voters to get rid of the people that make these poor decisions, if the council were to say and prove that they have cut spending and cut salaries of city employees to refrain from a rate hike and this was an unavoidable decision, then I would agree on the rate hike. It's sad that many people will have a black cloud that will be overshadowing Christmas and the new year because of these over paid dictators.

Posted: Thursday, November 18, 2010
Article comment by: az mac

The more taxes go up or rates or fees what ever you want to call them, prices go up and the people have less money to spend. 5 years ago I read where 50% of peoples wages go to some form of tax. Today it must be at least 60% or more. When are you people going to start fighting back? You sat at home and did nothing and now you have a higher rate on water and sewer. They got by with it because almost no one showed up so now they figure they can raise more taxes because people will do nothing about it. They are right.
One meeting I attended they said they have to make the rules because people are to stupid to decide for their self. Wasn't those exact words but that is what they meant. They are right again.
People you are going to lose this country if you do not start fighting back. Already you have no rights left. You have to ask the governments permission to do most any thing. Slaves have to ask permission, free men do not.
Our dollar becomes more worthless every day. Soon you will be paying $25 for a loaf of bread.
When I was in Korea it was 600 won to the dollar, that was about 10 years ago. That means what cost us a dollar cost them 600. Today the won is 1.12 to one dollar. At the rate we are going we will be paying 600 dollars to one Korea won. That means what we buy for a dollar today will cost us 600 dollars. This is coming soon if it is not stopped. If this is what you want sit home and do nothing.

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