Whether or not to increase water or sewer rates in Ash Flat was the main topic of discussion at the monthly meeting of Ash Flat City Council Oct. 18.
Following the approval of September's city council meeting minutes and department reports, Rickey Carter, a specialist with the United States Department of Agriculture addressed the council for consideration of possible rate increases for 2010.
Carter reviewed the city's income and expenditures from 2007-2009, as well as taking into consideration the prospect of lower sales tax revenues due to the economy. Ash Flat Mayor Danny Traw told Carter the recession hasn't really affected revenue for the city from sales tax. Carter suggested to the city that they raise the rates slightly on either one or both of the commodities. He said the base rate needs to be between $15 and $16. He said it would be easier to raise the water rates than sewer because it does not require the city to hold a public hearing to raise water rates, only an ordinance that must be passed by city council. Carter asked the city to consider their options and get back with him regarding the changes.
No decision was made on whether or not to increase the rates or just put more money into the water or sewer fund from sales tax revenues to accommodate expenses that might be higher the following year. In 2010, the city of Ash Flat must move their utilities for the upcoming widening project by the Arkansas Department of Transportation. The estimated cost to move the water lines is approximately $209,000. Carter advised the council that they may qualify for a grant of up to 45 percent of the cost to help defray the costs of moving and upgrading the system. Some of the water lines are over 40 years old. In addition, if the city continues to grow, additional water storage will be required.
City council will discuss the options and bring their comments and decisions to the table at the next regular monthly meeting before planning the 2010 budget.
In other business, Ash Flat Police Chief Anthony Wiles told council that he had filled out grants to help pay for a new police car. Because of additional funding made available through the Recovery Act, Wiles said that he was told the chances of receiving the grant were good. Traw said the 2006 Crown Victoria being replaced was considered totalled. The vehicle was destroyed in an Oct. 2 accident when an Ash Flat Police officer was responding to a medical call and hit a herd of deer.
Ash Flat City Council meets Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Ash Flat City Hall. The public is welcome to attend.