June 11, 2014

Special Chickasha City Council meeting focuses on water

CHICKASHA — The Chickasha City Council discussed the 2014-2015 budget, including citizens' concerns about water quality and rates, as well as the city's plans to solve the water issue during a special meeting Monday.

Councilman Dr. R.P. Ashanti-Alexander said he'd received calls expressing concern about raising water rates when the water quality isn't improved yet.

The council recently discussed raising the rates 10 percent per year and the sanitation rate 6 percent per year to help cover water and sanitation costs and increase the funds available for water projects.

"We're raising water rates to get more money to fix more problems," City Manager Stewart Fairburn said.

The city is looking into auto line flushers from Severn Trent, Fairburn said.

The city plans to complete phase 2 of the water treatment plant replacement project and the raw water line replacement project in the next 10 years.

The capital improvement projects dedicated sales tax, which funds     water and street improvements, will expire in 2023, and may generate $32 million in the next 10 years if renewed, according to the proposed budget.

The current incarnation of the tax is expected to produce $24 million in the next 10 years.

However, unless another source of funding for street maintenance is found, $15 million is needed for streets, which leaves $17 million for water projects.

Currently, sanitation costs aren't being covered, but the 6 percent increase per year is expected to cover costs in six or seven years, Fairburn said.

Local developer Steve LaForge asked the council to consider expanding sewer service further south to the Pikes Peak Road area to allow for economic development.

The city plans to implement automated meter readers within 12-18 months.

"Water use will be shown more accurately, which may help increase water revenue. The rate of return is expected to be very good," Fairburn said.

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