City takes final step to finance wastewater facility
By Chad Knudson
Ranger-Review Staff Writer
The City of Glendive took the final, difficult step in financing the new wastewater reclamation facility during the city council meeting Tuesday.
Following a public hearing, the council unanimously voted to implement a rate increase effective July 25.
Approximately six individuals were in attendance for the hearing. Two spoke to register their concerns about the proposed sewer rate hike.
Eliese Hrubes expressed concern that the rate hike is permanent.
“I understand the aged infrastructure really needs improvement,” she said in prepared remarks. “The rate increase would be easier to take if there were assurances they’d go back down when the improvements are done.”
Hrubes also noted the significant amount of money which will be generated by the rates, and asked whether there was a risk of mismanagement and corrupt uses of the money.
For his part, Don Silbernagel simply said the increase was too large.
“I think the proposed rate increase is a little bit ridiculous,” he said. “That’s just my own opinion.”
In response, alderman Rhett Coon noted the huge amount of wastewater infrastructure the city has in place and the need to update and improve on a continual basis.
Alderman Gerald Reichert spoke in what he described as a passionate manner to defend the new treatment facility and the process that has led to the rate increase.
“When I look at the purpose of city government, water and sewer are two really important ones,” he said. “It is going to be expensive, but it is what we do for ourselves. It is absolutely the right thing to do.”
The rate increase adopted will result in a $7.00 increase in base effective July 25. A $6.50 increase in base next year and a $6.25 increase the following year. In addition, usage rates will increase seven percent in each of the next three years.
The result will see minimum bills more than double from $25.40 now, to $52.34 in 2016.
Sletten Construction is expected to start mobilizing for construction of the new treatment facility within the next week, according to Mayor Jerry Jimison. A pre-construction meeting is scheduled for July 29. The target completion date is April 2016.
Reach Chad Knudson at email@example.com.