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St. Mary Board Will Act On Water/Sewer Rates In May As Budget Crisis Continues

After a discussion in which a former mayor and former city clerk urged the St. Mary Board of Aldermen to enact water and sewer rate increases that would keep those departments solvent, the board and Mayor Gloria Bader ended up asking city clerk David Woods to put 20 percent increases for each department on the agenda for the May 9 board meeting.

The action was part of last Thursday’s meeting, which saw a new board member sworn in, a new aldermanic president elected in a tiebreaker, and more liquidations of certificates of deposit.

The budget situation remained front and center in the board’s first meeting since concluding four work sessions related to that topic and the first following the Municipal Election.

The result of the April 2 election may have thrown a little curveball into the night’s discussion.

Jennifer Schwartz, who defeated Rose Rosenzweig 30-20 to take the Ward 1 seat, made her first order of business to nominate fellow Ward 1 Alderman Cody Myers as the board president. Myers seconded it, which led to some question of whether that was allowed, but former mayor Carl Wyatt said it was.

On a roll call vote, Schwartz and Myers voted for Myers, while Ward 2 alderman Jennifer Weiss and Brian Helms voted no.

Helms had been the board president since last year, after he defeated Clyde Cassoutt in the 2018 Municipal Election. Weiss had won re-election 17-15 over Cassoutt on April 2.

“You have to break this tie,” Wyatt said to Bader.

Bader did break the tie by voting for Myers.

When the board got around to the water and sewer rates, Bader recommended the board adopt the increases that Woods calculated would allow the departments to break even — 17 percent for water and 27 percent for sewer.

Woods explained he would place the board’s recommendation on the next agenda along with a public hearing that is required before raising water rates. …

With two aldermen in favor of going 20 percent and two opting for less than that, Bader said she also favored the 20 percent increase.

“I do not want to go 20 percent,” Weiss said during the polling. “I don’t really want to do very much at all, frankly, because I have a high water bill myself.”

The 20 percent increase would increase the first 1,000 gallons of water from $24.15 to $28.98 and each additional 1,000 gallons from $11.29 to $13.55; while the first 1,000 gallons on the sewer bill would increase from $18.95 to $24.07, and each additional 1,000 gallons would increase from $7.88 to $10.01. …

The combined rate of $98.75 per month would be $1,185 per year. …

The board followed the rate discussion by liquidating two CDs.

Woods reported the general fund was in the hole $3,311, water was in the hole $7,497, and sewer was in the hole $2,661 for a total of $13,469. He said that did not include any deposits on water and sewer since the beginning of the month.

He informed the board of the bank balances and said, “Water has about $4,000, but I have a $5,200 water bill that I’m going to mail off that’s going to bounce if I don’t have some money.”

Woods recommended cashing in a CD for sewer repair/replacement in the amount of $6,631 and one in the general fund for $4,275.

The board approved cashing in the CDs.

See complete story in the April 17 edition of the Herald.

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