Granite Falls water, sewer may go up

Apr. 29, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

Granite Falls residents could see a 5.3 percent increase in water and sewer rates this year, with another increase next year, so the town can qualify for federal loans it needs for updates to the water and sewer systems.

But no increase in property taxes for the 2014-15 is expected, Town Manager Jerry Church said at a budget workshop Monday night.

“I don’t want to downplay (raising the water and sewer rates) any because it is an increase to our customers, but that’s why it’s so important that we’re able to do our general fund budget and not have a tax increase that puts an additional hardship on the residents in the town,” Church said.

Church said the water and sewer rate increase would amount to 8 cents a day for the typical customer.

“We’re not going to be by ourselves,” Church said. “Everyone is being forced to address the aging infrastructure that they have in water and sewer. This is going to be the norm. This is not going to be the exception.”

The city is applying for three loans come from the U.S. Environment Protection Agency totaling $3.1 million that Granite Falls. In order to get the loans, the city’s water and sewer rates have to match a certain amount for 4,000 gallons a month, and currently, Granite Falls’ rates are approximately 10 percent below that amount, Church said. This means the town will need to increase rates next year as well.

But the amount of money raised by the rate increase will be lower than the city would pay to get a loan from a bank, Church said. Paying the debt from a bank loan would require rates to go up a total of 13 percent over two years instead of 10, he said.

Granite Falls is applying for three loans, and Church said he expects to get at least one, and then the city would apply for the rest in another round of loan applications due Sept. 1.

“We will know within probably the next week whether we were successful with obtaining those loans,” Church said.