The impending increase in the price of water for Duncan residents will include an increase in the surcharge place on each resident’s meter and a hike in the base rate, City Manager Jim Frieda said.
In 2011, the last time Duncan increased water rates, a $1 surcharge was added to each meter and the base rate for more than 1,000 gallons of water was increased by 7 percent.
Those increases were designed to raise enough money to meet the city’s annual note payment for its remaining share of the water rights to Waurika Lake.
The revenues fell short of the mark and the city has had to make up the difference out of its operating budget, which is stretched thin even though the city is working with 19 vacant job slots.
Frieda said the city needs the water increase to raise about $500,000 more per year.
City officials are running different numbers to determine how much the meter surcharge should be increased and how much the base rate should be hiked, Frieda said.
“I’ll have a better feel for that either Wednesday or Thursday,” Frieda said.
“I’m trying to make it equitable.”
He said he will be able to keep Duncan’s base water rates below the state average.
The city’s base rate for 1,000 gallons of water is $9.88, about $3 below the state average, he said.
Council members voiced support for the rate increase at their last meeting Tuesday.
Vice Mayor Mike Nelson said Saturday he favors increasing the water charges high enough so that city can quickly pay off its note for the Waurika Lake water rights.
“I like to pay debt off as fast as we can,” he said. “Most people are willing to do what it takes for us to be solvent.”
He said the public generally is supportive.
“Some people gripe about everything,” he said.
One telephone caller to City Hall suggested the city manager fire the entire City Council, Nelson said.
The council members, of course, are elected to office by voters and receive no pay while the city manager is a paid employee who serves at the pleasure of the elected council, under Duncan’s city manager/council form of government.
“I don’t think we’re being unfair to anybody,” Nelson said.
Neither Mayor Gene Brown nor councilmen Ricky Mayes, Ritchie Dennington or Tommy Edwards voiced objections to Frieda’s call for a water rate increase at the last council meeting.
Frieda said he wants to convene a workshop meeting of the City Council to discuss the water rate options before the next regular council meeting on June 24, when a vote on the water increase is expected to take place.
The water rate hike will expire in two years so the matter can be studied again before a decision is made to extend it for a longer period, Frieda said.