The Billings City Council is scheduled to decide Monday between two options for boosting water and wastewater rates during the coming fiscal year.
Monday’s business meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.
Last year, the council voted not to raise rates for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30. As a result, current rates won't "sustain operations and fund required infrastructure,” said Dave Mumford, public works director, in a memo to the council.
The department has two options for council consideration, which it presented during the council’s Feb. 20 work session: raise rates to the recommended 2017-18 levels, as determined by a rate study, or raise rates to the recommended 2018-19 level.
Mumford recommends that after a public hearing the council select the second option. The higher rates would go into effect July 1.
Under the first option, average water rates would rise 3 percent and wastewater rates by 2.7 percent. The second option would boost both rates by about 5 percent.
In addition to the rate increases, both options will:
- Boost private fire protection charges by about 4.4 percent.
- Increase various water and wastewater fees.
- Implement a non-sufficient fund fee of $25.
- Increase the extra-strength surcharge for TSS, total suspended solids.
- Establish rates for the ExxonMobil Billings Refinery.
The council has a half-dozen other public hearings scheduled Monday, including:
- First reading of a resolution adopting new policies for the installation of sidewalks, curbs and gutters. Mumford said the new policy replaces ones that are out of date and defines the process that city staff will use to enforce code for either new installation or repair of existing concrete outside of the subdivision or site development processes. The new program will “address concrete problems throughout the city in a more efficient and proactive manner which will reduce the City’s liability exposure,” Mumford wrote to the council. The city plans to use up to $80,000 in gas tax receipts to start the program.
- The annexation of about 42 acres west of Zimmerman Trail and north of Grand Avenue in the Billings West End. The owner, Billings Opportunities LLC, requests the annexation to develop the property in the city as a Town Pump facility.
- The annexation of two acres totaling about 0.14 acres east of Jackson Street and south of Orrel Avenue in the Billings South Side. The owner wants to annex the property to build a house.
- The annexation of two parcels totaling about 8.7 acres east of Lake Elmo Drive and Unita Park Drive in the Heights. The owners are looking to bring the properties into city limits to construct a house on the northern parcel and an affordable senior living facility on the southern parcel, according to Planning Division Director Monica Plecker.
- Consideration of minor amendments to the city’s noise ordinance. The changes will limit the number of waivers granted to events to four in a 12-month period, exclude the Central Business District and the East Billings Urban Renewal District from the waiver limit, clarify the timing of an appeal to the council after staff has denied a waiver, and change the penalty for any noise ordinance violation from a misdemeanor to a municipal infraction.
The council’s consent agenda includes these items:
- Approval of about $213,000 in tax increment financing to demolish structures at 4130 and 4160 State Avenue in the South Billings Urban Renewal District. The TIF funds would also be used for water, sanitary sewer, storm drainage, landscaping and sidewalk improvements and the installation of a public parking lot. There is discussion among the developer and community groups, according to Planning and Community Services Director Wyeth Friday, about developing a small retail grocery outlet on the vacant portion of the property.
- Contract approval worth nearly $190,000 with Kittelson & Associates to study how to shape traffic in downtown Billings. Gas tax receipts will pay for the study.