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Storm water rates increasing in Howard

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

HOWARD – The village board voted 5-1, Monday, March 9, to increase storm water rates for 2020.

The increases, which are effective March 1, raise the equivalent residential unit (ERU) monthly rate by 84 cents to $6.20 and the ERU quarterly rate by $2.52 to $18.60.

Chris Haltom, director of administrative services, said the increase in rates is intended to yield an operating income of $275,000 this year.

For that to occur, he said the utility would need to increase revenue by $171,659, based on the four-year average expense amount of $697,218 and adding $290,000 for estimated depreciation.

With one ERU being equal to 3,301 square feet of impervious surface, Haltom said there are 17,032 ERUs in the village and most are billed monthly.

He said the rates were last increased in 2018.

Trustee Craig McAllister, who objected to the village spending additional money with the storm water utility, cast the lone dissenting vote.

“We’ve got to maybe tone back what we’re doing with this utility, kind of live within its means and give the residents of Howard a break on the one thing we can control, and that’s this utility,” he said.

Without increasing rates, Haltom said the storm water utility would have annual net losses and the accumulated net losses would result in not having any cash on hand.

“It would affect the operation of the storm water utility,” he said.

Haltom said the rate increases would apply for the bills generated at the end of March.

With two months of the year already passed, he said the utility will more than likely have operating revenue below the estimate for the rate increase.

Oasis bids rejected

Though the Howard Commons apartments were designed with a central green space, the board decided not to go ahead at this time with an oasis.

It rejected all bids for that project as being over the amount budgeted.

The oasis plans call for an outdoor landscaped plaza with the following:

• Outdoor natural gas grills and seating areas for picnics/cookouts.

• Sunbathing area with outdoor shower.

• Natural gas fire pits with seating areas.

• Artificial turf areas with cabanas providing shaded seating.

• Landscape beds, plants and hose bibs.

• Decorative/accent lighting.

• Decorative fencing and retaining wall.

The board’s action halts the oasis project indefinitely.

Public works roof

Board members approved the low bid of Methena Roofing for the public works building roofing project totaling $343,561 for a new PVC roof with membrane materials being directly purchased from the manufacturer, Tremco.

Geoff Farr, director of public works, said the new roof will have a three-year installer warranty and a 30-year manufacturer’s material and labor warranty against all leaks.

Emergency plan

The board approved an ordinance for a village emergency management plan, which includes providing latitude for the board to conduct government operations during times of duress.

For instance, in the event the village president would be unable to carry out the office’s duties, the plan calls for the longest consecutively tenured trustee to assume the role of an interim village president.

In the event two or more trustees have the same longest consecutive term, the plan calls for them to draw from a deck of cards with the high card prevailing.

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