Wyoming council talks roads, water and sewer rates
Resurfacing of County Road 30 between Wyoming and Stacy has begun. Chisago County Commissioner Ben Montzka on May 6 told the Wyoming City Council that it will take longer to drive north from Highway 61 in Wyoming.
Part of the work in the city is the extension of the sidewalk on the east side of the road north to Giese Memorial Library.
Construction is likely to take about two months, Montzka said. Concrete paving will replace the asphalt. Some fine-tuning of storm drainage is still to be made.
In other news, Montzka said the county levy will remain flat for a sixth year.
During the council meeting’s open forum, Steve Sicheneder asked when the city plans to begin repairs on streets other than Greenway Avenue, where the repairs are being funded by state aid money. Sicheneder wondered why the city has not used its assessment policy.
The city is cumulating money for repairs but does not yet have enough to begin a specific project. Mayor Eric Peterson said the city does not want to assess property owners as long as it is possible to schedule projects with money available. Assessments are over-and-above property taxes and are not deductible for tax purposes.
There were also questions about the increases in Wyoming’s water and sewer charges.
City Administrator Craig Mattson referenced the most recent water and sewer rate study and indicated the city must operate the utilities to cover the cost of producing water, treating sewage, maintaining infrastructure and making capital improvements. The former rates were not adequately funding the city’s Water and Sewer Fund. The goal is to have balance reserves for a year’s operation, cover depreciation and have enough for capital improvements.
Overall use of water is dropping as a result of improved fixtures and conservation. The number of water and sewer connections has been climbing very slowly.
Mattson explained that in the case of the Chisago Lakes Joint Sewer Commission, chemical and energy costs are increasing, while the rate of new customers is decreasing. However, pipes must be replaced, and the city needs an additional water tower. Current towers are not adequate, as pumps are working frequently to keep tanks filled.
There was no adjustment to the sewer rates after Wyoming hooked up through the commission. The commission then had repairs and maintenance beyond its budget.
Wyoming’s share of these was 23.8 percent, which was reflected on the most recent rate study, conducted by Naeem Qureshi of Progressive Consulting Engineers, Inc. Qureshi found that current rates would not cover the capital improvement projects for the next five years and the city will need to sell about $2 million in bonds.
His recommendations were for an approach rewarding conservation in billing residents for water and sewer service.
Under the former rate schedules, the city would continue to lose money even with 5 percent annual rate increases. The new rate schedule, featuring 10 percent annual increases for five years, can support the city’s capital improvement plans.
The council accepted the rate study in October. It places Wyoming’s water and sewer rates in line with similar communities.
The council on May 6 also approved plans and specifications for improvements on Greenway Avenue and authorized advertising for bids on the project.
A conditional use permit was approved to allow Spirit and Praise Pentecostal Church to operate at 24135 Greenway Road.