City could hike water rates 12 percent
The Fairfield City Council passed the second reading of an ordinance to increase water rates.
The water portion of a resident’s utility bill would increase about 12 percent. Councilor Daryn Hamilton and chair of the utility committee said this would mean about a 4 percent increase in the average resident’s utility bill, since a utility bill includes other items such as wastewater, garbage and recycling. If the council approves the third reading, the ordinance would take effect July 1.
“While 12 percent seems large, the overall bill you see in the mail isn’t going to increase that much,” Hamilton said in an interview today.
Hamilton said the money raised from the water rate increase would go toward replacing water mains. In particular, the city needs to replace a water main below Adams Avenue between Third and Sixth streets. It also has to worry about replacing the dam at Walton Lake.
“We need to give that attention as soon as we can,” Hamilton said.
Water superintendent Carl Chandler said the rate increase will mean an extra $260,000 for his budget. To put that amount of money in perspective, it cost his department $300,000 to paint the B Street water tower inside and out. It costs about $40,000 to replace a block of water lines, five or six of which are replaced annually.
Chandler said the additional revenue will allow his department to have a slightly larger cushion so that it can withstand emergency spending projects. At present, the water department is operating at a break-even level.
“We see a lot of deficiencies in the collection system, and we’re trying to put money into it so we don’t end up 10-15 years behind schedule,” he said.
Chandler said he’s working closely with the street department to coordinate street replacements with water line replacements, so they can be done at the same time. What he doesn’t want to see is the city build a new street and then have to tear it up just a few years later to replace the water main beneath it. He fears the city will have to tear up the new streets in the downtown because the water mains below them are rotting.
One of the major projects the water department will undertake is repairing the spillway at Walton Lake. The city spent $300,000 repairing Pleasant Lake, although Chandler doesn’t think repairing the spillway at Walton Lake will be as expensive.