McAlester City councilors will have a couple of choices ready when deciding whether to enact an increase on water, sewer and trash pickup rates.

Action on possible rate increases has been placed at the top of the city council agenda for the meeting set for 6 p.m. on Tuesday in the council chambers at City Hall.

Two ordinances will be included in the agenda packet for the council to consider.

“They’ve got two options that will be included with the agenda,” Monroe said. “One is for a 24 percent increase and the other is for 30 percent.”

If passed as emergencies, any rate hikes will go into effect immediately.

Option 1 would set a minimum water rate of $11.39 for water users inside the city and $17.26 for those outside.

Any use of more than 300 cubic feet per month would result in a charge of $4.13 per 100 cubic feet for water users inside the city and a charge of $6.18 per cubic foot for use outside the city.

Under Option 1, the minimum sewer rate would be $7 for inside the city users and $10.65 for those outside. For use of more than 300 cubic feet, the additional cost would be $2.23 per 100 cubic feet for inside city users and $3.32 for those outside.

Trash pickup would be $20.58 per month under Option 1.

Option 2 would set minimum water rates of $11.91 and $18.04, for inside city use and outside city use, respectively.

The price would rise to $4.32 and $6.46 per cubic foot, respectively, for all use of more than 300 cubic feet per month.

Option 2 would raise the minimum sewer rates to $7.32 and $11.13, for inside city use and outside city use.

Any use of more than 300 cubic feet would be assessed at $2.33 per 100 cubic feet and at $3.47 per 100 cubic feet, respectively.

Under Option 2, trash pickup would be $21.52 per month.

City councilors were told by consultant Rick A. Smith of the Edmond-based Municipal Finance Services, Inc. last Thursday that the city needs to raise the rates and raise them fast because of pending bond indebtedness payments.

Monroe said three payments will be due on Feb. 1: A $1,237,720 payment on the 1999A CIP bond; a $56,531 payment on the 1999B CIP bond and a $494,275 payment on the 2002 CIP bonds.

After hearing Smith’s recommendations on Thursday that the city council pass a minimum 24 percent increase in water, sewer and trash pickup rates, city councilors appeared glum after the meeting ended.

“I’m concerned and I’m worried,” Ward 5 City Councilor Buddy Garvin said.

“We live here and this scares me.”

Holding a notebook filled with the city’s financial information, Garvin said he planned to take the information home and study it before making a final decision.

Ward 3 Councilor Michael Dawkins said Friday night that he had not reached a decision yet on what to do about the proposed rate increase. Dawkins said he wanted to study the issues farther.

Smith said that the utility increases and a sales tax increase were about the only options the city had left. The city’s bond agreements require the city to raise its utility rates if its bond indebtedness can’t be covered by sales tax revenue, according to Monroe and Mayor Don Lewis.

Garvin said one of the things that makes it hard to determine how much of a rate increase is needed is that the numbers keep changing.

For example, the city council approved a tentative budget in June only to be told later it must be cut by $1 million.

Then, Garvin and other city councilors were told Thursday night that $1.8 million in bond reserve funds which were thought to be available had, in fact, been transferred to the McAlester Public Work Authority.

“We were looking at numbers we were told were good, then we were told they weren’t good,” Garvin said.

“What’s going to pop up next?”



Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com