Trenton Utility Committee to recommend 20% and 15% rate increases to wastewater and water rates

Utility Rates or Electrical Rates or TMU or Trenton Municipal Utilities

Citing a need to generate additional funds for Trenton’s water and sewer departments, the Trenton Utility Committee has voted to recommend that the full city council consider an increase in rates.

A discussion was held among three committee members and the Trenton City Administrator before a motion was made to request rate increases for both departments. The proposal advancing to the city council calls for a 20 percent increase in wastewater, (sewer) rates AND a 15 percent increase in water rates. Committee members are Cathie Smith, Dave Mlika, and John Dolan.

Chairman Smith noted revenue in the wastewater fund has diminished to an amount that’s less than the city council’s established minimum cash reserve, and Mrs. Smith added the water department fund has almost dropped to the amount that the council set as its cash reserve minimum.

The discussion focused on the need for more money to fix current infrastructure problems and to start receiving money to be obligated for future improvements.

The increase in water rates is expected to help finance the replacement of treatment equipment that’s reported to be over 50 years old at the water plant. A major project of concern there has been the two clarifiers. Funds also are needed to replace “drive motors” that are over 25 years old and to replace water mains allowing for improved water pressure and fire-fighting flows.

The sewer rate increase is described as needed to repair or replace badly deteriorating sanitary sewer mains and manholes that are over 50 years old with some of them approaching a hundred years old in Trenton.

Previous discussions have focused on proposed water and sewer rate increases to be applied across the board, meaning, residential, commercial, and industrial.

At a meeting last month, Urton had reported to the council the waste-water fund was “tapped out” due to obligations with existing long-term debts with that department.

A water rate hike of eight and a half percent occurred this year, but the council had delayed its effective date by two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trenton’s average water rate is $56.68 per month and Trenton’s average sewer rate is $56.09 per month. A proposed 15 percent increase in water rates would make the average amount $65.18. The average sewer rate, with a 20 percent increase, would be $67.31 a month.

Trenton’s Utility Committee approved three other recommendations that will advance to the City Council. One is to make an adjustment of $220,000 to the Water Department budget to show payments for the lime sludge removal project in the current city fiscal year.

Another recommendation is to accept a bid from Asplundh for tree trimming around power lines at the rate for a two-man crew and trucks of $120 per hour. The third recommendation is to accept a quote from Douglas Pump for rebuilding a river intake pump at a quote of $27,384.

TMU tentatively plans to start semi-annual water system flushing next week.

Photo by ETA+ on Unsplash