City Council plans to raise electric rates and fees

The City will raise electric rates next month to get the new rates in place before a six percent wholesale increase in January.

“We’re considering raising rates by four percent and increasing the service charge by one dollar,” said utility committee member and council woman Beth Goldhammer. “Our other option was to increase rates by five percent and leave the service charge alone.”

The four percent increase plus one dollar service charge really benefits commercial users, she added, stating the five percent increase would have cost them more. “The one dollar increase to the service fee spreads the cost across the board,” she said, adding that she really hated to see the rate increase at all. “But the fact is, the City often incurs a raise in wholesale rates twice a year while only raising customer rates once a year,” she said.

Commercial service charges will move from $9 to $10 while residential fees will go from $6 to $7.

An ordinance is being drawn up and will be heard at the Dec. 5 meeting prior to the council’s vote.

City leaders also discussed two nuisance properties, releasing one from any obligation, but not the other.

The property at 220 S. 6th St., owned by James Dwerlkotte was shown to be secured, painted, mowed and generally cleaned up enough to be taken off the nuisance list. Dwerlkotte appeared on his own behalf and was able to show what had been done to the property to make the required improvements.

The property next door at 210 S. 6th St., has not had any improvements made. Owner Christy Harrison said she had someone hired to clean up the place, but the arrangement fell through.

Last month, the City, taking on the responsibility, wanted the dwelling inspected for asbestos, but other complications arose and the inspection did not take place. City leaders wanted to know from the inspector if the house that sits on the property was or would ever be inhabitable.
The next step for the City is to move the property into abatement, City Attorney Joe Murray told the council.

In other business, the City discussed the Hebron Volunteer Fire Department sinking fund. Chief B.J. Linton said last month that the current City donation to the sinking fund would not adequately cover the expense of a new fire truck in 20 years. He warned that the City could be looking at quite a shortfall due to rapidly increasing costs in fire equipment.

This month, the chief returned with projected costs of a pumper truck. “It will cost $290,000 to replace what we have,” he said. “Six years ago, the last replacement was $205,000.”

Currently the council submits $1,000 to the fund per month, but at the rate of increasing costs, city leaders are expecting to double that amount.

Council woman Goldhammer said she would call city accountant Brian Blobaum for consultation and the council will vote on the move next month.
Linton also said that installation of the new warning sirens will begin in a week to ten days and, barring any weather delays, should be completed by the end of the month.

And finally, the council moved to put ‘no parking’ signs along Lincoln Ave., from 10th Street to 13th Street. Mayor Shane Day said that since the street narrows so drastically at 10th St., cars parked along the Lincoln Avenue curb cause hazardous conditions, especially during inclement weather.

“I’ve seen multiple accidents in that two-block area,” he said. “We need to put signs there.”

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