Monroe water rate hike is given final approval

    After holding a public hearing held Monday night, with no other citizens of Monroe attending, the Monroe Town Council unanimously agreed to raise water rates by an average of 18.5 percent, starting next month.
    Council Chairman Al Lehman said the Monroe water utility has lost operating money in seven of the past nine years.
    He also noted that the increased costs of routine maintenance on the system that is over 80 years old in some areas, along with a new, additional state fee, have been responsible for the losses.
    An information sheet handed out by Lehman made the following points:
    • The minimum [rate] for a five-eighths-inch or three/fourths-inch meter will go up $1.12 per month, plus sales tax.
    • A home using 2,501 to 3,500 gallons per month will see the bill go up $3.70 per month, plus the seven percent sales tax.
    • A family using 6,500 to 7,500 gallons per month will see an increase of $6.16, plus sales tax.
    • A family that uses 10,500 to 11,500 gallons a month will experience an increase of $8.38, plus the 59-cent sales tax on that amount.
    Lehman  made the point that if rental tenants who owe water bills move away, the town will start collecting the money from the owners of those properties. Collections from rental owners have not been done in the past because town officials were unaware of that provision in the water rate ordinance.
    He revealed that one rental tenant left town and had a $1,000 unpaid water bill. If renters leave, Lehman noted, shutting off water has no effect on getting that person or family to pay.
    The information sheet states, "Our past oversight is being corrected. We will no longer excuse the unpaid balances on vacated rental properties."
    Also at the meeting:
    • Tthe clerk-treasurer was authorized to make year-end fund transfers so no town funds are in the red on December 31.
    • The council presented a congratulatory plaque to the Daily Democrat's retiring reporter for having covered Monroe town government for 30 years.