Berryville council considers water rate increase

Friday, May 22, 2015

Berryville residents could see a $2 to $4 increase on their water bills beginning in July.

The Berryville City Council passed Ordinance 977 on its first reading Tuesday night in an effort to raise water and sewer rates. Mayor Tim McKinney explained that the ordinance should increase these rates by about $2 per minimum bill and $4 per average bill.

The ordinance must be read three times and approved by the council before it takes effect.

City attorney Clint Scheel read the ordinance at Tuesday's meeting, saying that increased operational costs of the Berryville Sewer Department necessitate the rate increase.

"It is necessary that the Berryville Municipal Code be revised to meet the current financial requirements of the Berryville Water and Sewer Department," Scheel said.

The new water rates for homes within city limits, he said, are: $11.50 for the first 2,000 gallons; $3.55 per 1,000 gallons for the next 18,000 gallons; $3.30 per 1,000 gallons for the next 80,000 gallons; $3.15 per 1,000 gallons for the next 200,000 gallons; and $3.05 per 1,000 gallons for over 300,000 gallons.

Scheel noted that homes outside city limits will pay a bit more. Those new water rates are: $13.50 for the first 2,000 gallons; $3.90 per 1,000 gallons for the next 18,000 gallons; $3.65 per 1,000 gallons for the next 80,000 gallons; $3.50 per 1,000 gallons for the next 200,000 gallons; and $3.40 per 1,000 gallons for over 300,000 gallons.

The new sewer rates, Scheel added, are: $9.00 for the first 2,000 gallons; $3.25 per 1,000 gallons for the next 8,000 gallons; $3.00 per 1,000 gallons for the next 90,000 gallons; and $2.00 per 1,000 gallons for over 100,000 gallons.

McKinney said the increase is necessary to keep the city functioning, noting that the sewer department has run a $1 million deficit the last several years. By increasing water rates, McKinney said the city should bring in $18,000 more per month, with $10,000 coming from Tyson Foods and $8,000 from residents.

McKinney emphasized that the increase still places Berryville's water bills among the least expensive in Northwest Arkansas, saying citizens in Bentonville pay $44 each month compared to the $22 average bill in Berryville.

"We'll still be well below the average, but this will get us on solid financial ground," McKinney said.

The council also approved a request from the Berryville Kiwanis Club to use George Pond Park from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 13, for the Kiwanis Kids Fishing Derby, as well as a request from the Berryville Library to host a party on the square from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 1.

The council's next regular meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 2, at City Hall.

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