Before the council voted on the issue in a special noontime meeting Aug. 12, Thayer Mayor Earl Buddy Rogers said the city could not afford not to do so.
"This is not really an increase," Rogers said. "This is what has been passed on to us."
The city gets its electricity from Missouri Public Utility Alliance, a nonprofit utility company representing cities. The new rates go into effect Sept. 1.
Residential customers who had paid $48.07 for 500 kilowatt hours of use per month, will now pay $53.97 for that amount of electricity. The 15-percent increase applies also to commercial and industrial rates. Thayer Housing Authority rates are the same as residential.
The board also approved charging customers $5 for each disconnect-notice attached to the door of delinquent customers' homes or businesses.
The city is owed about $107,000 in unpaid utility bills, mostly from customers who left town without paying their water and electric bills. Earlier this year, the board tasked the city's utility clerk with investigating costs of collection agencies to recoup some of the lost revenue.
The board took no action to hire a collection agency, but has approved increasing water and electric service deposits.
New customers with a letter of credit will now pay a $150 deposit for electric service to a house or mobile home. Without a letter of credit, the residential deposit will be $400. New water customers will also pay a deposit of $50 for a house or mobile home or $60 for commercial.
A trash deposit of $9.30 is also required per household.
Businesses will pay a deposit of $300 to $1,000, depending on estimated usage.
Caboose to be cut up
At the regular Aug. 9 meeting, after reading aloud 31 bids for several pieces of equipment offered as scrap metal, the board accepted the high bids of $3,850 from Billy Jo Madden for a road grader and $1,475 from Kurt Reynolds for a dump truck. The highest number of bids, 12, were cast for the road grader, ranging from a low of $1,205 to Madden's high bid.
The board rejected bids for an oil tack truck, tanks at the wastewater treatment plant and the caboose on display in a fenced area with a log cabin in Sherwood Park. Of three bids submitted, the high bid for the caboose was $1,100.
Rogers said the caboose, which was a gift to the city from Thayer School District, cost the city money to keep and was of no value.
"Nobody even is allowed to go in and look at it, but we still have to keep insurance on it in case someone climbs the fence," Rogers said.
At the special meeting three days later, the board heard from Streets Superintendent Brian Blankenship, who said city crews could cut up the caboose with a torch and saw, and net more money for the city that what had been bid.
"If you cut up all the scrap, it should be several tons," Blankenship said, adding that scrap metal is now worth about $230 per ton. "It makes no sense to give it away. when we could do it in house."
Blankenship said city workers could begin cutting up the caboose on Aug. 16.
In other business
* The board approved buying a new laser jet printer for about $3,200 rather than spending $2,300 to repair the old one.
* The board rejected a proposal by the water department to make purchases up to $500 from petty cash for parts and supplies. Rogers said he prefers to have the department make purchase order requests signed by the mayor as it currently does.
* The board approved spending about $700 for two new sets of tires for the police department's Crown Victoria cars.
* The board approved closing the city pool because of low attendance, except for already scheduled evening pool parties.
* The board approved raising dispatcher Luke Martin's pay by $.50 per hour now that he has completed a 90-day probation period.
* The board approved having Alderman Terry Tillman negotiate with the Bank of Salem to buy the vacant land next to the police department.