Utility tax passesSlated to take effect January, Dickinson residents will see additional charges on their water bill, as unanimously approved by the Dickinson City Commission Monday evening.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
Slated to take effect January, Dickinson residents will see additional charges on their water bill, as unanimously approved by the Dickinson City Commission Monday evening.
Since September, city officials have been mulling over a street light utility to defray costs of operating city street lights, about a $300,000 bill the city has been covering until now.
“The light poles belong to MDU (Montana-Dakota Utilities Co.) and we’ve just been making them a payment,” said Commissioner Shirley Dukart. “Other cities were already doing it, we were just some of the last ones.”
Dukart said because about 30 percent of residents, renters for example, do not pay property taxes, the street light utility would even out the playing field for a commodity used by all.
“The idea is to spread and therefore lower the expenses to all property holders in the city of Dickinson,” said Shawn Kessel, city administrator.
Dukart said all residents, including non-owners, will incur the fee.
Based on water meter size, an average size residence will see an additional $2 charge and the average commercial property will see an additional $10.
“The largest water meter will have a slightly higher amount than that $10 a month,” Kessel said, estimating about 95 percent of residential properties will fall into the $2 category.
Southwest Water Authority increased its rates from $3.12 per 1,000 gallons to $3.17 due to increased costs in water treatment.
The City Commission voted to approve the 5-cent increase which will take effect Jan. 1.
Skip Rapp, city public works manager, said an average home using about 7,000 gallons of water a month would see an increase of about 35 cents.
For the first time since its opening more than five years ago, the West River Community Center applied for reimbursement of about $46,000 in major repairs and maintenance, about $25,000 for cardio equipment and about $51,000 for capital improvements to a soccer and flag football complex.
The reimbursement will be paid out of the one-half percent sales tax fund, also known as the sales tax three fund.
James Kramer, director of Dickinson Parks and Recreation, said the city voted on a half-cent sales tax in November 2002, whose funds were then to be used for construction of WRCC as well as to provide a subsidy if needed after the facility was up and running.
The reserve account, comprised of half-cent sales tax collections where each year about $100,000 is budgeted to build up the reserve, presently has about $360,000.
The reserve account ended 2007 with about $1.3 million and ended 2008 with about $1.7 million, said Tina Johnson, the city’s accounting manager.
Johnson, speaking on behalf of City Administrator Shawn Kessel, said the city’s 1 percent hospitality tax can also be used for the WRCC as it can be considered a tourist attraction.
Earlier this year, community center repair costs were pulled from the reserve account including replacement of pool drains for about $19,000.
The gym floor was also repaired for about $22,000 and the parking lot received a coat seal for about $49,000.
Kramer said this is the first time the community center has asked for money out of the fund.
“Prior to this the building kind of took care of itself and we didn’t have a lot of repairs and maintenance,” Kramer said. “Now its five and a half years and things are starting to happen.”
In other business:
- Rapp requested approval to send requests for qualification to engineering and architectural firms on estimates and specs on building a new public works maintenance facility. Rapp said along with streamlining processes, there are environmental concerns with the present facility, as well as deficiencies in employee safety and health.
Rapp said although final estimates would need to come from a contractor, his department has estimated the new facility to cost about $3.1 million.
“I don’t think we’re acting too early on this one,” said City Commissioner Carson Steiner. “They’ve been there a while and I know we’ve been struggling with some of them.”
- Due a higher number of people traveling to the landfill without their debris secured or covered and an increase in complaints of blowing debris, administrative fees are being proposed if a person arrives at the Baler Building with an unsecured or uncovered load.
A $35 fee could be imposed on pickups, a trailer longer than 16 feet in length would receive a $50 fee and a truck would be charged $75. Tarps would then be required and tarp cost would be charged to the individual.