East Carbon votes to raise city's sewer fees
Following a public hearing Tuesday night, East Carbon councilmembers voted to increase the city's base sewer rate by $5.
"This is something that none of us are going to enjoy doing," said East Carbon Mayor Orlando LaFontaine.
According to LaFontaine, the Utah Water Quality Board mandated the raise in rate and also requested that East Carbon start to distance the city financially from East Carbon Development Corporation.
"These water boards need to see that we have the ability to be financially self-sufficient before they can restructure our loans," continued LaFontaine.
The water quality board has agreed to restructure the loan the state agency gave East Carbon from 5.5 percent for 20 years to zero percent for 30 years.
The restructuring will allow East Carbon to begin paying on the principle of the city's loan rather than paying on interest for the next eight to 10 years.
East Carbon bonded for more than $8.8 million to complete the city's infrastructure overhaul.
At the time of the overhaul, the city was receiving upwards of $600,000 per year in tippage fees from ECDC.
Because of downsizing at the local disposal facility and garbage diversion to other landfills ECDC's contribution to the city has been cut to $136,000 to date for the current calendar year.
"We were sold a bill of goods by ECDC's original owners. We were told we would be the richest little city in America and, now, we are left holding the bag," said East Carbon Councilmember David Maggio.
East Carbon officials stressed the fact that the infrastructure improvements were something the city definitely needed.
"We would still be using liquid propane," pointed out the East Carbon mayor. "Our city is much better off. But now, we have to pay for it."
The revenue from the sewer increase will go toward paying off the city's debts.
According to the mayor and members of the council, the raise in sewer rates will not be the last service increase that East Carbon residents will see in the coming months.
East Carbon officials are also looking at increasing the city's water rates to aid with the bond payments.
East Carbon is planning to have United States Department of Agriculture representatives come to the local area and complete a grassroots inspection of the city in order to determine what type of an increase will be fair to the public.
"We want to be careful with the water," explained LaFontaine. "We have worked very hard to beautify our city and we don't want people to give up on their yards because they can't afford to water."
According to the mayor and council, East Carbon is looking to make the city's water rates comparable to the fees of Price and Helper.
The council would like to see the city's base water rate stay the same with the increase coming in the form of an escalating scale.
Currently, the city charges the same fee for anything between 6,000 and 50,000 gallons. This is the area the city is looking at changing.
There was a consensus voiced by attendees at a the hearing indicating that East Carbon needs to increase the charge for owners of vacant homes in the city. The city currently charges a $4 fee for having a hookup for a home where water is not being used.
"We can no longer depend on ECDC. Our city must be self-sufficient and these rate increases are the best way to do that," concluded the East Carbon mayor.