Sibley residents will see their water and sewer rates increase on their September bill.
In a special meeting Tuesday, the board of aldermen unanimously agreed to raise water and sewer rates by 3 percent.
In town water rates will go from $12 for the first 2,000 gallons to $14.25 for the first 2,000 gallons. In town sewer rates will go from $13.50 to $15.25.
Out of town water rates will increase from $15 for the first 2,000 gallons to $17.50 for the first 2,000 gallons. Out of town sewer rates will increase from $15.25 for the first 2,000 gallons to $18.50 for the first 2,000 gallons.
Anything above 2,000 gallons of water will remain at $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. The sewer rate will also remain at $2.50 per 1,000 gallons. The $1 state fee will also remain in place.
Mayor Jimmy Williams said they have tried not to raise rates, and they haven’t raised rates since 2008. Sewer rates were raised in 2010. He said with the cost of chemicals and maintenance going up, the town’s utility fund has been in the red this year.
“We can’t keep going like we are,” he said. “We can’t keep pulling out of reserves. The bad thing about water and sewer is everybody turns on their water, and everybody thinks it’s free. What’s happened over the years is the government keeps putting these regulations on us and they aren’t giving us any money. We just cannot continue to take these negative figures.”
In 2016-17, they took a loss of about $9,200. Water sales last year were at about $173,000, but expenses outweighed their revenue with a total of about $183,000. With the sewer fund, they took in about $124,000, but expenses were about $142,000.
The total loss of water and sewer was about $26,000. For the last several years, the town has been losing money in sewer expenses.
“The rates we’re looking at right now are minimal,” he said. “I project that we’ll break even this year.”
Williams said Sibley is fortunate in that most of their water infrastructure has been replaced. Sewer continues to be an issue they deal with in that the motors continue to get clogged up with debris. Also, sewer lines are overwhelmed during times of rain that might cause heavy flooding.
“Sibley sits in kind of a bowl,” Williams said. “(Highway) 371 is at the top and the water drains off to everywhere else.”
Rates will increase 3 percent every year for the next three years, and as needed after that.