The city of Manawa may increase its utility rates.
City auditor Mike Lensmire suggested increasing the water rate at the Manawa Common Council meeting on July 15.
“At this time I don’t see utilities repaying their debt anytime soon,” Lensmire said.
He noted the utilities are close to being self-funding, but operating costs are rising.
The city can increase the water rate by up to 2 percent without approval from the state.
The last utility rate increase was two years ago.
Although the sewer debt will be paid in 2015, Lensmire noted the city had recently refinanced the water utility. The payment on that loan will increase from about $70,000 per year to $100,000 in three years.
Also, the city is operating on a tight budget, according to Lensmire.
“The city basically has no working capital – there is no extra cash flow,” he said.
Lensmire said the utility rate increase will help improve the city’s budget and increase cash flow.
“The last three years have been really tight,” said City Clerk Cheryl Hass. “But I think we’re doing okay.”
Mayor John Smith asked if other municipalities have raised utility rates. Lensmire replied that most continue to increase rates by about two percent every few years.
In other business, the council approved change orders and certificate of substantial completion for the Dorner Inc. portion of the Union Street project.
The change order involved increasing the original contract of $352,352 by $5,940 and decreasing the contract by $7,591.
Extra work on a water line caused an increase in the project cost.
Smith noted that the city should not have been charged about $720 for fixing a water line on private property. Public Works Director Frank Jaeger will check on this.
“The city will have to pay either way,” Hass said. “But we can charge it back to the property.”
The cooler at Lindsay Park has been repaired, according to Mike Frazier, chair of the Improvements and Services Committee.
Rob Rosenau is the interim fire chief, according to Mary Eck, the council representative to the Manawa Fire Board. He replaces Mark Levezow, who resigned June 30 as fire chief after 27 years of service.
Eck also announced the resignations of Fire Board President Dennis Bonikowske and the fire board secretary.
“We’re moving forward in the right direction,” Rosenau told the council. “Morale is going up.”
Jaeger reported that street construction is about 75 percent done.
Police Chief David Walker noted that Rodeo Weekend was very quiet.
“It was the smoothest (rodeo) since I’ve been here,” he said. “Perhaps the change in schedule had something to do with it.”
Smith asked why a Clintonville ambulance was at the rodeo.
He was told that it is common practice to have another department help at the rodeo and this year Clintonville agreed to send an ambulance. That way, one of the Manawa ambulances is available to answer emergency calls.
“We have three different positions to cover during the rodeo and only two ambulances,” Rosenau said. “We’re trying to protect everybody.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved hiring Lisa Benitez as a part-time police officer.
• Approved moving the fence and installing a batting cage at Lindsay Park.
• Agreed to present Levezow with $100 of chamber bucks in gratitude for his 27 years of service as fire chief.
• Agreed to recommend the appointment of Rosenau as interim fire chief and emergency government director.
• Noted the city attorney will meet with the Finance Committee to discuss the dam lease agreement.
• Approved operator’s licenses for William Opperman, Joshua Korotka, Donna Plaster, Carla Arndt and Rabecca Miller.