By ERIC X. VICCARO
The Ste. Genevieve Board of Aldermen conducted a public hearing regarding water and sewer rates during Thursday’s regular meeting.
They did so without much fanfare.
The public hearing lasted less than two minutes, with Ste. Genevieve city administrator Happy Welch briefing the board on the necessity for an increase.
Water and sewer rates will increase by 2 percent, the same amount the city bumped charges at this time last year.
Welch said the city needed to increase rates to keep the water and sewer departments solvent – so it can “fund itself.”
The city needs some revenue stream to help pay for new water line and sewer line construction.
The main water line construction project this year will be continuing the Fourth Street rebuild – which began earlier in 2021.
Alliance Water Resources manager Steve Wilson has yet to determine which sewer lines will be prioritized and replaced this year, Welch said.
The current water rate is a minimum of $6.95, which will increase to $7.09. Sewer rates will bump from $8.32 to $8.49.
The industrial water rate will rise from a minimum of $6.05 to $6.23, which will be a three percent increase. That’s for industries with a contractual agreement with the city.
Operating and maintenance charges are measured in cubic feet.
Welch said changes in the consumer price index (CPI) also factored into the decision to raise rates.
According to ordinance literature, the rates will be enacted in “full force and effect” after passage by the board of aldermen.
Ward 1 Alderman Gary Smith expedited both bills for a second reading. Smith made a motion to accept these readings, with second both times from Ward 2’s Bob Donovan.
In a related water and sewer matter, there will be a billing change forthcoming.
Welch said customers may sign up for Front Desk, an online payment system using either a credit card or electronic check.
The city administrator cautioned there are additional fees with both those types of transactions.
Customers may still pay in person at the city hall lobby, using either cash or a check. Checks may also be left in the drop box outside the hall. People may still opt for the old-fashioned way, mailing in a payment.
Welch, in his administrator’s report, noted GWorks – the city’s accounting software – will be discontinuing the ACH module for customers to pay their bills without any charge.
Front Desk will be the new method, for communities across the county. This change will be enacted on April 1, no fooling.
Welch reported more than 500 customers have signed up to use the Front Desk system. Letters regarding the change will be mailed to consumers after the holiday break.
See entire story in the print edition.