Property owners in the City of Redwood Falls are going to see an increase in their water, sanitary sewer and storm sewer rates in the new year.

According to Missi Meyer, city director of finance and administrative services, the city had a rate study conducted by DGR Engineering to determine its course of action.

The rate changes include:

• An increase of 5 percent per cubic foot of water sold

• An increase of 5 percent per infrastructure base charge for water

• A 2 percent per cubic foot increase for sanitary sewer

• A 3 percent per infrastructure base charge for sanitary sewer

• A 5 percent per infrastructure base charge for storm sewer

The monthly charges for 2019 will include:

• A water base charge of $11.45 per month

• A water usage charge of $5.47 per 100 cubic feet

• A sanitary sewer base charge of $10.03 per meter per month

• A sanitary sewer usage charge of $3.24 per 100 cubic feet of water consumed

• A storm sewer utility charge of $8.65 per month per one residential equivalency factor

The increases go into effect Jan. 1. 2019.

Meyer explained the city has made it a practice to utilize funds from the rates it charges users as a way to offset potential assessment costs for infrastructure improvements. The rate increases will help to ensure the city has sufficient capital on hand to make any necessary improvements. She added not all cities have this type of plan in place. 

While the rate increases may be unpopular, they are intended to avoid having to assess users when those improvements are made.

The city council also approved the electric utility rates for 2019, and Meyer said, based on a DGR rate study, those rates will remain the same. Meyer said the city did not receive a electric utility rate increase from the Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA), which provides power to the city.

The only adjustment is a slight decrease in what is known as the energy cost adjustment, which allows the city to compensate for monthly usage increases – peak power increases in the summer when it is very hot and in the winter when it is very cold, but those would only be assessed if the need arises on a month by month basis.

In other action during its meeting, the city council:

• Declared an Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics centrifuge and an Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics incubator as surplus property, as the equipment is outdated and the manufacturer will not support any repairs.

• Approved the issuance of a 2019 license for the retail sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products to the Redwood Falls Municipal Liquor Store, and Casey’s Retail Company in both of its locations in the city.

• Approved a request from the Redwood Falls Port Authority for a preliminary plat approval in Paxton Township Fifth Addition regarding a parcel it owns in the township at the corner of Highway 19/71 and CSAH 1. The plat is being done in conjunction with another plat being done by Randy Malecha for his lot next to Redwood Tire that has not been annexed. The intent is to plat a right of way service lane to CSAH 1.

• Approved the purchase of a 2019 Kenworth dump truck from Concrete Mobility at a cost of $179,000. According to Darrell Bowers, street department superintendent, the purchase of the dump truck will allow the department to replace a 1990 International dump truck that can no longer pass a department of transportation (DOT) inspection because of the frame rails. The staff evaluated a number of vehicles before making its request.

• Approved the final pay reimbursement of held retainage to Allied Blacktop Company of Maple Grove in the amount of $13,332.99 for the 2018 seal coat improvement work in the city. The total cost of the seal coat project for 2018 was $266,659.80.

• Adopted a resolution transferring $5 million from the Redwood Area Hospital fund to the City of Redwood Falls and recorded it in the capital project fund committing it for the future purpose of future tax levy stabilization. The funds are part of the agreement between the city and CentraCare Health Systems and Carris Health, LLC as part of the transfer of ownership of the hospital.

According to Meyer, the placement of the funds into this account merely is an effort to classify the funds. While the funds are specifically committed with the approval, Meyer added the decision may be undone by a majority vote of the city council.