By Matt Montgomery
The Piedmont city council unanimously voted to approve an action Monday which will raise the water, sanitary, sewer and refuse fees for Piedmont residents.
The new utility rate increase will take effect July 1.
The council had previously waited to make this decision until Piedmont residents had a chance to read the letter they mailed out explaining the reasons for the proposed rate increases. And now, after speaking to their constituents, they voted to approve the action.
The council said the utility fees are going up because Oklahoma City is raising their fees.
“Oklahoma City is raising their rates, so we have to raise our rates in order to keep up,” Councilman Charles Coffman said.
Coffman said according to the city accountant, for every $1 the city pays toward utilities, it only collects 87 cents.
He said the city needs to make some adjustments to get the costs in line with what the city collects.
Piedmont City Manager Jim Crosby said since Oklahoma City is raising its rates, Piedmont’s water bills with Oklahoma City are going to increase.
“We don’t like to raise rates, nobody does,” he said. “On the other hand, water is the most important thing right now.”
Crosby said utilities pay for everything in public works and it is necessary for Piedmont to raise its rates.
“We have to have this water,” Crosby said. “We have to pay for our general operation funds.”
The fees on utilities like water will rise from $20.63 for 2,000 gallons or less to $22.07.
For more than 2,000 gallons the rate will rise from $4.61 per thousand to $4.93 per thousand.
Other utilities such as sewer will rise from $15.73 for 4,000 gallons or less to $17.60 per month. Commercial sewer rates will rise from $20.17 for 4,000 gallons to $22.19.
For refuse collection, the fees will rise from $20.89 for one trash can to $21.52 and from $10.22 for a second one to $10.53.
Refuse collection outside of city limits will rise from $32.43 for one can to $33.40.
Piedmont City Councilman Bobby Williamson told the council that he spoke to a couple of his constituents who don’t use as much utilities as everyone else, yet they are charged the minimum charge associated with each utility. Councilman Donnie Robinson made a motion asking Piedmont City Manager Jim Crosby to research this and see if the city can make it so those residents could be put on a payment system to, “Ease some of the sting,” Robinson said. “I think we owe that to them, to research that see if there is anything we can do.”
In other business, the city council voted to approve the Piedmont Municipal Authority and Piedmont Special Projects Authority’s annual operating budgets for the fiscal year 2014-15. The council was previously scheduled to vote to approve or not approve this at the last city council meeting, but due to an error in the way it was written on the agenda, they postponed that decision until tonight.