Goessel council raises water rates for some customers

The Goessel City Council decided to raise water rates for some customers during its Dec. 16 meeting.

Continuing the discussion from the previous meeting, council members acknowledged current revenue generated from water use does not cover the cost of delivering the water, considering that some lines and meters need to be replaced, and it will take 10 more years to finish paying for the water tower.

Although water income is insufficient, the council was reluctant to raise rates, expressing concern for residents on fixed incomes.

The council eventually decided to not increase water fees for those who use the minimum amount. The rate will increase slightly for those who use more than the minimum.

The council spent considerable time discussing customers who live outside the city limits but want to receive city water. Those residences currently pay double the rate city residents pay.

However, the council also discussed the disadvantages to the city for allowing such use. Although those customers pay double the rate, councilors did not feel that was enough to offset the lost property-tax revenue that goes to the county and not to the city.

The city receives no property tax money from those residences, even though the city has the expense of maintaining the lines. Council members said the city is not generating enough income from those users to cover its share of maintenance costs.

The council determined those outside the city limits who use city water will be allowed to continue receiving it. But new users who live outside the city limits will need to be annexed to the city in order to buy water from the city.

Councilors emphasized that not everyone who requests annexation will be annexed, particularly if it would cost the city a considerable amount of money to connect that property to the city line.

In a similar vein, the council discussed sewer service to properties outside city limits.

?We had discussed there was always a shortfall in funds,? Councilor Dean Snelling said.

Mayor Dave Schrag asked, ?Do we want to continue allowing water and sewer outside the city??

After much deliberation, the council decided that as of Dec. 16, new utility services will no longer be extended outside of the city limits.

Other business

In other business, the council:

? considered two bids for demolition of the property at 207 W. Main St. The council accepted the low bid of $3,150 from Goering Enterprises. The bid includes demolition, concrete removal, utility disconnection and leveling the site. If asbestos is found, asbestos removal will be billed separately.

? spent considerable time discussing wording changes in the employee manual. Because of changing state laws about guns, the city is required to change the wording of its policy to reflect the current laws.

Police clerk Paula Flaming said it is an insurance liability formality; in order to retain liability insurance coverage, the city has to comply with current state laws about employees carrying guns.

Schrag said the city will continue to check with insurance to be sure the city is within compliance.

? heard from Schrag about an opportunity to participate in a Leadership Marion County training that starts in February. Schrag recommended the training. City Clerk Anita Goertzen agreed it is worthwhile.

? approved police participation in the ?Shop with a Cop? program, in which a uniformed police officer takes a needy child shopping. Councilor Jim Wiens commended the program.

? heard from Public Works Director Karen Dalke that the city?s motor grader has been fixed. She plans to grade the streets when it rains.

? heard that Dalke had made the Christmas decorations that have been placed by the city building.

? heard that city police issued five verbal warnings for speed and made one contact. The police investigated criminal damage to property.

? heard that Officer Seth Louks had attended a meeting with multiple jurisdictions regarding rural burglaries and common suspects.

? briefly discussed a skateboard facility at the city park. Councilor Larry Schmidt reminded the council that money from fund-raisers had been set aside for the park.

? heard that Goertzen plans to attend a tourism retreat in Valley Falls during January.

? following an executive session for employee evaluations and wage review, the council approved small raises for employees and a Christmas bonus for part-time employees.

?We do appreciate the job our employees are doing,? Schrag said.

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