MEDORA — Starting in August, Medora residents will pay more per flush.
A rise in sewer rates needed to be approved as a condition of a $1.7 million State Revolving Fund loan for a much-needed wastewater treatment facility in the town.
The Medora City Council unanimously approved on Tuesday night to increase sewer rates from $2 per month to $3.50 for Medora residents,. High-end commercial rates, meant for businesses like hotels and motels, will bump up from $50 to $65. Low-end commercial rates will rise from $4 to $6.
The city has lost money while selling its sewage plans — nearly $15,000 in 2013.
This increase will still not make up for expenses, but the council did not want to cause a “rate shock” to customers, Medora Mayor Doug Ellison said. Council members may raise its rates again at the end of the year to keep up with costs.
As part of a utilities audit prepared by North Dakota Rural Water Systems Associated, the city also found that its water rates may also be too low.
Eric Volk, executive director of North Dakota Rural Water, wrote that a financially reliable city should take in about 15 percent more water income than expenses.
As it stands now, Meodra earns 3 percent more.
“We’re getting what we’re taking in and we should have a cushion there for things that arise,” Ellison said.
In other news:
– Medora received a $440,000 Energy Impact Fund grant for the building of a new water storage tank, which would allow development to expand west.
But a large grant fund application to cover the rest of expenses for an $8 million wastewater treatment facility was not approved by the state. Because of this, the council unanimously decided to apply for a low-interest State Revolving Fund loan that will cover all of the project.
Backing out of the loan is possible, if more grant money does not come in to help pay it back, Ellison said.
City engineer Mike Njos deemed another, larger water tank necessary in case of a fire emergency or water line break. The council approved paying an engineering firm $40,000 to study possible design plans and locations for the tank. Council member Todd Corneil said other projects may demand attention first, like a well where city water is being leaked.
“We’ve got a lot of irons in the fire,” Corneil said.
– The council established a new committee to organize efforts to apply for state and federal grants for lower housing costs.
Members of the committee include Corneil, Tczap, Billings County Deputy Sheriff Pat Rummel and Medora Convention and Visitor’s Center CEO Leona Odermann. ___