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Water, Sewer Committee approves fee changes for grinder pumps

A fee change has been flushed out by McMinnville officials regarding sewer grinder pump installation.

The city’s Water and Sewer Committee reconvened to discuss proposed changes to the city’s agreement with residential property owners who request installation of a grinder pump system. Approved was a combined charge of $5,250 for tap fee, pump station and installation that includes a maximum 100 feet to connect to the home, an increase from approximately $4,400. 

“So, the request that you’re asking is for us to change the charges so that they match what our actual cost is?” asked Mayor Ben Newman. 

Water Department director Ricky Morton replied, “Yes, to at least recoup our cost.”

If the home is more than 100 feet from the pump, the homeowner must hire a private contractor for the remaining footage required. If the homeowner wishes to hire a contractor to perform that entire portion of the work and opt out of the city’s 100-foot allowance, the city’s charge drops to $5,000.

Morton, who requested a fee change due to the department losing “several hundred dollars” on each grinder pump installation, confirmed that those amounts get the city closer to the department’s actual cost. 

“This is a money-making enterprise fund,” said Alderman Mike Neal. “It’s actually one of the only things that we make money on.”

The city’s Water and Wastewater Department is an enterprise system, meaning its expenses are paid by its customers. No property taxes are used to fund operation. 

“Then we don’t need to be losing money,” said Alderman Kate Alsbrook. 

Also under previous consideration was an increase in the $8 monthly grinder pump warranty charge. However, that will remain unchanged. 

The fee change is now in effect. Board of Mayor and Aldermen approval is not required.