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Council discusses possible water rate increase

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The Artesia City Council discussed a possible water rate increase at their regularly-scheduled meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

After consideration and approval of the 2016 Uniform Traffic Ordinance update was postponed to the May 24 council meeting, the Water Rate Study Update was discussed.

Scott Verhines with Occam Consulting Engineers brought the councilors up to date with a program still in the design stages to connect water conservation efforts with water and sewer rates. Verhines proposed a water rate increase of 40 percent with additional 5-percent increases for two years afterward for both residential and commercial users.

As well as the rate increase, two surcharges were also proposed. The first surcharge would be based on the ratio of non-winter-months use to winter-months use for the individual account, and the second surcharge would be based on the ratio of the individual account compared to the citywide average.

The projected revenue from residential, commercial, industrial, city-use, multi-family, transport, and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) for both water and sewer would be $4,668,000, not taking into account conservation practices some users would adopt in response.

Also on the agenda was the approval of the benefit and health insurance package provider for city employees and a discussion of the proposed 2016-17 budget.

Sandi Farley, Human Resources director, said she was in contact with several health insurance providers and ultimately decided Cigna Health Insurance was the best choice. She brought her findings to the councilors, and the choice was approved 5-2.

Since the budget discussion was merely informative for the councilors, there was no vote; however, there will be at a future meeting once the budget, proposed by City Clerk/Treasurer Aubrey Hobson, is final.

In other business, 26 students were hired for the summer as recreation aides and leaders at a rate of $7.50 an hour and Splash Pad attendants at a rate of $7.75 an hour.

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