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Blackwell City Council proposes utility rate hikes


The Blackwell Journal-Tribune reports that the Blackwell City Council are proposing a series of utility rate hikes for residents in the Blackwell community.

The BJT reports that the Council discussed at Thursday’s meeting and approved a first reading of four utility rate increases for sewer, solid waste, water and electric services.

If the increases are approved with a second reading, sewer rates will increase 40%, while solid waste, electrical and water rates will increase 4%.

City officials said that “public utilities should operate in the black” to yield a profit and should not require a transfer of monies to be breaking even. The night’s agenda gave an example that this would be raising the rate of an “average” four-person family’s monthly sewer bill from $8 to $10.

The City of Blackwell has not increased rates in two years. Last year, the city absorbed a proposed increase to sewer rates.

“This gets us to the point where we’re breaking even, aren’t we?” Councilman Richard Braden asked.

Mayor T.J. Greenfield responded, saying the proposed increase would only be “halfway” to a hypothetical break-even point.

Wieland said Russ Meacham, the City of Blackwell’s CFO, said this increase would be a “good start” to that point.

“As always, when there’s talk of rate increases, it gets people’s attention,” Webb said.

Wieland noted that the City of Blackwell absorbed a rate increase last year, to which Webb replied that it was not something the city could afford to keep doing.

Greenfield spoke to the Council, saying it is hard to keep absorbing costs while trying to improve the city’s infrastructure systems.

“It makes it tough to keep absorbing these increases and not raising them just enough to continue the services, let alone provide any kind of major infrastructure upgrades while continuing with day-to-day activities,” Greenfield said.

Wieland said the city has looked around the county and noted that, throughout the county, rate increases are widespread.

The first reading for the various increases was unanimously approved.

The second reading of the rate increases will be June 2 at 6 p.m. at the next Council meeting. That meeting will also be a public hearing for the proposed budget for the City of Blackwell for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.