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Water rates face 19 percent hike
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McMinnville Water Department customers who do not live inside the city limits will see a 30 percent hike in their water bills in order to lower the increase to 19 percent for city residents.
City officials voted 6-1 on Tuesday night in favor of the increase. Mayor Jimmy Haley, Vice Mayor Ben Newman Aldermen Mike Neal, Ken Smith, Jimmy Bonner and Rick Barnes voted in favor, while Alderman Billy Wood voted against.
Originally proposed was a 20.5 percent increase across the board for all customers. After some officials voiced a desire to increase the rate to 30 percent for non-city residents in order to give city residents a lower increase, the numbers were recalculated.
The city has 6,170 Water Department customers. Of those, 5,378 are located inside the city limits and 792 are located outside the city limits.
The increase would generate close to $1 million in additional revenue, which more than covers the $854,388 the state says the department needs to cover expenses and what Water Department director Bill Brock says he needs for future upgrades.
Wood says he voted against the measure because it did not reflect a $250,000 reduction by returning the department’s in lieu of taxes payment made into the city’s general fund annually.
“The city was sitting on $3.5 million in taxpayer dollars,” he said. “Because the firetrucks were not purchased, it’s now closer to $4.5 million. There is absolutely no reason why we couldn’t take $250,000 from the general fund and give it back to the department and lower the water rate increase even more on city taxpayers.”
The measure must pass one more read before the board.