Public Hearing On Exira Water Rates On Monday

EXIRA - Exira residents will get a chance on Monday night, Dec. 10, to hear more about and express their opinions on a proposed water rate increase that could about double current water rates.

The current minimum water, sewer and garbage charges are at about $60 per month and the council is looking at raising those rates to about $95 per month, for a minimum of 2,000 gallons of water, with anything over 2,000 gallons to go up about $1.30 per thousand gallons over the first 2,000.

During a meeting in the first week of November, Mayor Mike Huegerich explained that in order to complete needed water system improvements, the city had to borrow about $1.9 million at a 3.3 percent interest rate. It would be the first water rate increase for the city in 10 years.

The city hopes to have new rates in place by Jan. 1, and had set Monday night, Dec. 10, as the time for a public hearing on the increase and the council is expected to vote on the ordinance putting the increase in place at that meeting.

In November, officials with the Iowa Rural Water Association talked about a study that had been done to help the city determine the proper increase amount that would enable the city to pay back a loan needed for water system improvements, and would allow some funds to be set aside for future work.

Dale Barrie who put the study together said the $1.935 million loan would require an annual payment of $68,000. Water leaks had put the water account about $54,000 in the red, and with no change going forward, that amount could rise to $70,000, he said.

The study, he said, took many things into account, from the amount needed to repay the loan, to how much would be needed to set money aside for future needs, as well as how much of an increase was affordable.