Columbia utility increases could cost residents $8.70 a month

Wednesday, September 9, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT; updated 1:14 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, September 9, 2009

COLUMBIA — A host of increases in utility and other city government fees, included in Columbia's proposed $403 million budget for fiscal 2010, brought little discussion during a public hearing before the City Council on Tuesday night.

Most people who addressed the council during the second of three public hearings on the proposed budget lobbied for an increase in support for the Central Missouri Humane Society.

The budget, which has been the subject of a series of council work sessions and public hearings, is up for final approval at the council’s Sept. 21 meeting.

Several of the utility increases — including some for the sewer, water and electric utilities — are the result of voter-approved bond issues that are paying for major expansions and capital projects. Others are intended to help the city recoup or reduce the costs of providing services.

Planned changes in utility rates, which would take effect with the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, would result in an increase of $8.70 in the average monthly utility bill. Those increases include:

  • A 13 percent increase in sewer rates, which would raise the average monthly residential bill to $16.16, up $2.11.
  • An 8 percent increases in water rates, including a 3.5 percent increase approved by voters in 2003, a 1.5 percent increase approved by voters in 2008 and a 3 percent increase to cover increased operational costs. The change would boost customers’ utility bills by an average of $1.73 per month.
  • A 4 percent rise in electric rates to cover maintenance and operating expenses, and a 1 percent increase to cover debt stemming from a 2006 bond issue. That would cause the average monthly utility bill to rise by $4.86 per month.
  • A 20 percent increase in commercial solid waste rates, which would generate about $278,000 in additional revenue to cover the cost of service.

The proposed budget also includes higher fees for services from the Public Health and Human Services, the Parks and Recreation and the Planning and Development departments.

In the health department, the cost of vaccines would be $15, up from $10, and tuberculosis tests would cost $10, up from the previous $5. Visits to the sexually transmitted diseases clinic, which have been free for Boone County residents, would cost $10. The fee for out-of-county residents would double to $20.

Developers who bring plans to the Planning and Development Department also face higher fees if the budget is approved as drafted, but the increases are projected to generate less than $10,000 in additional revenue. The cost to file plans for a minor subdivision, for example, would rise from the current formula of $200 plus $1 per lot to $300 plus $5 per lot, while the cost of a rezoning request, which now stands at $200, could rise to as high as $1,000.



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