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Water rates rising in Winnebago

By Staff | Jun 14, 2010

Chris Ziegler

Losses of several thousands of dollars for two consecutive years will mean Winnebago residents will pay more for water.

The City Council unanimously approved increasing rates Tuesday night, citing an audit showing the city is losing money in its water fund.

Councilman Rick Johnson says in 2008 losses totaled $17,185 and $14,535 last year.

Johnson says revenue has declined since J-M Manufacturing closed its doors.

“We lost a lot of revenue and have not made that up. It’s been on the down slide and we’re trying to stop it,” he says.

A minimum monthly residential utility bill will go from $60.34 to $63.32. Commercial rates also will increase $2.98 a month to $48.73.

The bulk water fee will increase from $6 to $9 per 1,000 gallons, while the base fee goes from $18.05 to $20.05. Usage rates will be $2.17 per 3,500 gallons, up from $1.89.

Councilman Chris Ziegler wasn’t too keen on raising the base fee because that is generally done when capital improvements are needed.

“My reasoning for that is it hits fixed-income people the hardest. Personally, I’d rather see the per-unit fee go up,” he says.

Ziegler also was concerned about the rate hikes because next year sewer rates are going up due to the treatment facility project.

Johnson says increasing sewer rates does not affect the water fund and does not address revenue shortfalls.

In other business, Martin and Faribault County solid waste coordinator Billeye Rabbe assured the council that their concerns about trash at the county’s recycling drop site are being addressed.

Rabbe says she has met with residents and Councilman Dana Gates to discuss the matter.

“That is not a litter site. That is not a garbage site. That is a recycling site,” she says.

She told the council that Waste Management is suppose to keep the site clean and has agreed to pick up recycled items twice a week.

Johnson asked Rabbe if someone dumps garbage at the site, will Waste Management haul it away.

“If the site isn’t kept up or cleaned up or used in an orderly fashion it may disappear. Rural residents love the site. They were actually offended that people insinuated it was them that left the mess,” she says.

Rabbe says residents should call the sheriff’s department if they see someone trashing the site or contact her.

“You can always call me. Rather than have people call City Hall they’re very much welcome to call me directly,” she says. “Saying it’s my problem isn’t the issue. It’s everybody’s issue.”

Mayor Randy Nowak says he has talked with County Commissioner Tom Loveall and discussed some options.

One might be to move the site to a more visible area or another would be to install surveillance cameras.