rates discussed at special meeting
The Cottonwood City Council held a special meeting Thursday, Jan. 29, to address several issues.
The one of most interest to the several citizens in attendance was utility rates to vacant houses or buildings.
Martin Fowler reported that he and Shelli Schumacher along with Carol Altman contacted 12 area communities to see what they do. Half of them charge a vacation rate based on the base rate. Cottonwood’s current base rate is $57.22 per month. To service the 2 water bonds (one for the pipe replacement work and reservoir and the other for the new well) and the sewer bond (for the city’s share of the agriforest system) they need around $32 minimum so they are proposing a fee of $32.22 for vacant houses which is $25 less than the current rate. They also proposed that non-water or sewer using properties, such as Nuxoll Shell’s tire warehouse or the newly annexed Primeland gas pumps, could apply for a variance to the city utilities. There’s also some language that needs cleaned up in the current ordinance, as according to the way the ordinance reads, utility rates are made “per lot” while the city had been billing on a per water meter basis. A strict enforcement of the ordinance would mean many of the residences that are located on multiple lots could have been charge double or even triple or more depending on the number of lots they occupy.
Mayor Denis Duman said some of the things in the ordinance are ridiculous, at least in this day and age. There’s no telling when that ordinance was originally adopted as the current ordinance only shows when it was revised. The last revision was in 1994 but parts of the ordinance could date into the 1960’s or even the 1950’s.
Other questions brought up were the possibility of level billing like Avista does. Currently anyone who does outside watering pays a lot more in the summer months. The idea was broached as a way to help senior citizens on fixed incomes with their budgets.
Duman also said he’d like to see the water rate the same all the way through rather than the current step up at 40,000 gallons used. The water shortage issue doesn’t exist like it did when that was put into effect.
A motion was made to remove the 40,000 step increase and bring forth a resolution on the water rate change at the next council meeting. It was seconded and passed unanimously.
The new rate would take effect once a resolution stating such is adopted.
A question came up about shut-off and turn-on fees. The city has no shut-off fee but charges $34.50 to turn the water back on.
The USA Media cable television franchise was discussed. A proposed ordinance was presented of which a summary is elsewhere in this issue. In this case the ordinance has to be published before it can be adopted. The city is proposing a 3% franchise fee which USA Media has said won’t raise cable bills.
Alcoholic beverage licenses were approved for the Mini-Village and for Harley’s Bar & Grill (formerly the Twins).
Appointments were made for Dale Fletcher as building inspector and Joe Newmann as interim police chief.
The next council meeting will be Monday, Feb. 9 at 8 p.m.