By Tim Linscott
The budget for the upcoming year has been set and rates will be increasing for water and sewer customers in Grant.
In regard to electric rates, Grant Mayor Michael Wyatt wondered out loud on what was going on with that division of the city.
“I am curious on what the thought process was for electrical fund?” Wyatt asked council members at the Sept. 10 meeting.
A $149,000 overall budget loss also had the mayor asking how the city can break even in the future.
“The picture comes back to cash management. The shortfall we run into, in order to pay for the well, we basically put a franchise fee of $45,000. Where was that franchise fee going before?” Wyatt asked.
Dana Harris, Grant City Administrator, explained the franchise fee was allocated to street projects in prior years and this year went to the parks and recreation fund.
“If we don’t maintain profitability within those enterprise funds, I get concerned about not having enough cash if and when we need it. It is not prudent on our part,” Wyatt said. “We’d all like lower rates but we need to realize and recognize without franchise fees, we wouldn’t have a lot of things in this town. Without that cash cow, we would not have some of the things we have.”
He urged council members to ‘not go negative annually in electrical.’
Bob Tatum explained that the city is facing a wholesale increase in January and he wasn’t sure he wanted to raise rates now and then increase again at the beginning of the year.
“Raising rates three times in 12 months doesn’t show forethought,” he said.
The cash balance in the electrical fund has been decreasing in recent years, according to recent budgetary statements.
Electrical rates were not changed at this time. Rates for sewer went from $12 per month per customer to $16 and water went up 32 percent across the board (see chart on Page 3 for individual cost per month).
Harris felt without water meters the city would do what was best to be fair.
“At some point a policy will be needed to define the type of users,” Harris said, explaining that some customers are using a large amount of water and not being charged accordingly. “It should be based on the business type and the size of line going into the business. I think we are undercharging a lot of businesses in town. If they use, they should be charged.”
The tax request was set at 0.455199 for the upcoming budget year.