Monroe may up water rates

    For the first time since the 1990s, the Monroe Town Council will consider raising monthly water rates.
    At Thursday's meeting of the council, President Al Lehman said he will propose at the October 6 meeting a small increase, less than $2 more per month for minimal water users, to begin building up a fund to pay for replacing water equipment perhaps eight to 10 years from now.
    Lehman and council members Debra Giessler and Mike Geels agreed that it's better to have a small increase over a longer time than a large increase when things have to be replaced at the water plant.
    Lehman said, for example, that when a 6,000-gallon tank is replaced, the roof of the building must be removed so the old tank can be taken out and a new one installed. There would also be new pipes, valves, etc., he indicated.
    The overall cost has been estimated at more than $250,000 in today's dollars, but that could be higher a decade later due to inflation.
    Right now, Lehman noted, "our rates are just keeping us even, if everybody pays" the monthly bills.
    He added that the council is mindful that a number of Monroe residents are on fixed incomes, so the water rate increase proposal will take that fact into account.
    Also at the meeting, a public hearing was held on the proposed 2012 town budget, followed by passage on second reading, with the final reading set for the October 6 council session.
    The proposed budget next year is $383,970, which is $7,570 more than the proposal for 2011 that was set forth in 2010. The proposed amount to be raised from taxpayers would be $173,465.
    Meanwhile, Lehman reported that Monroe Township officials may take action in regard to financial assistance with local library cards, so the the town council might not have to do anything about the matter.