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St. Mary Sewer Rate Increase Fails On Technicality



St. Mary residents will not be paying more for wastewater services in the immediate future, after all.

When the board of aldermen voted on a proposed rate schedule of $26.86 per month for the first 1,000 gallons used and $12.72 for each 1,000 beyond that, the measure got two votes for and one against. Alderman Ron Barnett was absent.

At first, Mayor Carlton Wyatt declared that the measure had passed.

City manager/city clerk David Woods, however, pointed out that it had technically failed.

Woods explained that on “normal stuff,” a simple majority rules. For ordinances, though, the rules are different.

“On ordinances it takes 66 percent of the elected officials,” Woods said, “even those who are not here. You’ve got to go by who’s elected, not who’s present.”

In other words, with one aldermen absent, all three present would have to vote in favor of passing an ordinance for it to be successful, since the 2-1 vote would actually be only half the elected officials voting in favor of the bill.

“My mistake,” Wyatt said.

The new rate would have taken effect on the water billing that is due Jan. 10, 2022.

A public hearing had been scheduled for the rate increase. No one showed up to make their voices heard.

Alderman Dr. Zen Duda suggested that not enough time and notice had been given for the public to plan to attend the hearing. Therefore he cast the lone “no” vote.