Rising rates: GF council takes 1st step to increasing water, sewer bills

Friday, November 17, 2017

Water rates might increase for Green Forest residents next spring.

The Green Forest City Council voted at its Tuesday meeting to approve Ordinance 660, which applies an increase of five cents per 1,000 gallons of water used to monthly water rates, on its first reading.

The ordinance states that this is an automatic rate adjustment because of an increase in wholesale water rates approved by the Carroll-Boone Water District. Green Forest’s water rate schedule is based in part on the current cost of purchasing wholesale water from the Carroll-Boone Water District, it says, so any increase in the wholesale water rate structure of Carroll-Boone shall result in an automatic rate adjustment to the city’s monthly water rate schedule.

The ordinance outlines the following new monthly water rates: a $15 minimum for the first 1,000 gallons used by residences inside or outside city limits; $3.21 per 1,000 gallons for the next 29,000 gallons used by residences inside city limits and $3.80 per 1,000 gallons for the next 29,000 gallons used by residences outside city limits; $2.84 per 1,000 gallons for the next 170,000

gallons used by residences inside city limits and $3.05 per 1,000 gallons for the next 170,000 gallons used by residences outside city limits; and $2.36 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 200,000 gallons used by residences inside city limits and $2.77 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 200,000 gallons used by residences outside city limits.

For the North Extension Area and East Growth Area Phases 1, 2 and 3, the ordinance says monthly water rates shall be a $17.31 minimum for the first 1,000 gallons, $4.38 per 1,000 gallons for the next 29,000 gallons used, $3.05 per 1,000 gallons for the next 170,000 gallons used and $2.77 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 200,000 gallons.

For Tyson Foods and Unique Linen Services, the ordinance says monthly water rates shall be a $15 minimum for the first 1,000 gallons, $2.84 per 1,000 gallons for the next 29,000 gallons used and $2.36 per 1,000 gallons for everything over 200,000 gallons.

The ordinance says monthly sewer rates for residences shall be a minimum of $8.30 for the first 2,000 gallons and $2.85 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 2,000 gallons.

For Unique Linen Services, the ordinance says monthly sewer rates will be a minimum of $8.30 for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.37 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 2,000 gallons. For Tyson Foods, the ordinance says monthly sewer rates will be a minimum of $8.30 for the first 2,000 gallons and $3.32 per 1,000 gallons for anything over 2,000 gallons.

A standby charge equal to the minimum billing shall be charged if water is shut off at the meter, the ordinance says, but this charge does not apply to permanently vacated locations.

If approved on its second and third readings, this ordinance shall take effect and be in full force on March 1, 2018.

Public works director Buddy Fry suggested the council call a special meeting later this month to hold a second reading of the ordinance. This would enable the third and final reading to take place at the council’s December meeting, he said, and eliminate the need for an emergency clause on the ordinance.

Also at the meeting, Green Forest resident Nicholas Neil presented a proposal to the council to amend Ordinance 6.16.03, which states that no fowl are allowed within the city limits. The proposal requests the current ordinance be amended to allow a maximum of 10 chickens and no roosters. Personally owned chickens must be maintained within a resident’s property line, the proposal says, and cooped at night.

“A few weeks ago, I purchased a chicken coop and some hens and moved them to my residence in Eastridge Estates,” Neil said. “Two days after that, I received a notification stating I was not allowed to have chickens in city limits and to remove them within 24 hours.”

He said he researched the ordinance and contacted the mayor about what to do to change it. Neil presented the council with a petition with 44 signatures, 36 of which have been verified against the registered voters list provided by the county clerk’s office.

“My reason for wanting to do this is that I feel the current ordinance is rather antiquated,” he said, “especially with the social climb change that comes with having backyard chickens and being able to provide an organic source of food for your family.”

Neil continued, “It was a little surprising to me to find out this ordinance was in place due to the fact of where we live. For us to be in a town and area where Tyson is the largest supporter and have nothing but poultry around here, not being able to have hens for your own personal organic source of food was a little surprising to me.”

He said Green Forest is the last city in Carroll County to not allow any sort of fowl within city limits. Even Fayetteville, he said, allows residences within city limits to have 20 hens and a goat.

Reece asked if the council could just amend the ordinance, but the council determined that the current ordinance was voted on in a general election. City attorney Clint Scheel said the city might have to have a new vote on the issue. He said he would research the matter.

The council voted to approve a temporary exemption from the ordinance for Neil until the public can vote on the proposed change. Until then, Reece said, Neil can keep his hens, provided he keeps them out of sight.

Reece informed the council that he and Fry had recently met with representatives of Pizza Hut.

“They are planning on getting a Pizza Hut under construction here in January,” Reece said. “They’re making smaller units now. The plan is to have a sit-down restaurant, but there won’t be as many vacant seats. They’re going to focus a lot on delivery.”

He also announced that the council will have a special meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 28, to discuss the bond issue for the construction of the new city hall and police station. A public hearing on the issue will be held at 8 a.m., and the meeting will begin at 8:30 a.m.

The council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, at City Hall.

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