Utility rate increases, the 2020 budget and water wells were among the topics addressed by the Yuma City Council during its regular meeting, last week at City Hall in downtown Yuma.

The council unanimously approved the first reading of ordinances dealing with rate increases for sewer and water, which will go into effect if they get past second reading at a later council meeting.

Mayor Ron Swehla and council members Dan Baucke, Bethleen McCall, Steve Hoch and Luke Goeglein were in attendance, and Ryan Saffer participated via telephone. Bryson Chrismer was absent.

Both the water and sewer increases are based on a study done in 2017 showing the need for rate increases in the coming years to keep up with repair and maintenance costs.

City Manager Scott Moore reminded the council it approved in 2018 half of the recommended increase for the sewer rate, with the intention of doing the other half in 2019, but the 2019 increase was not implemented. The study also called for 3-percent increases in 2019 and 2020.

Therefore, the rate increase being done now includes half of the bigger increase first approved in 2018, the other half that never was done, and the 3 percent for ‘19 and ‘20.

The bottom line is the sewer rate per equivalent residential unit (EQR) is increasing from $24.38 to $35.15.

The ordinance was approved on a 6-0 vote. A public hearing and second reading will be held at a December council meeting, with the new rate taking effect January 1, 2020, if it passes second reading.

The city increased the water rate significantly in 2017 following the study, but did not do the recommended increases of 2 percent in 2018 and 2019. Therefore, the new proposed rate increase is 4 percent.

It will raise the base rate for 5,000 gallons per month from $21.75 to $22.62, as well as an increase from $1.78 to $1.85 for every 1,000 gallons after the first 5,000.

The first reading was approved unanimously. A public hearing and second reading will be held at December council meeting. It is scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020, if passed on second reading.

One can read the ordinances in their entirety inside this edition in the “Public Notices” section.

2020 budget

It is time for the budget and accompanying items for the next fiscal year to be finalized, and the council took those first steps last week, following discussing the 2020 budget during recent workshops.

An ordinance adopting the budget and appropriating sums of money passed unanimously on first reading last week.

The Pioneer did not have an opportunity to go through the budget’s details prior to deadline due to this week’s early publication, but will follow up with more information in coming editions.

Appropriating the sums of money is available, and is as follows: General Fund, $3.97 million; Ambulance Fund, $867,900; Electric Fund, $3.055 million; Water Fund, $924,720; Sanitation Fund, $494,950; Wastewater Fund, $864,675; Conservation Trust Fund, $55,000; Capital Projects Account, $200,000; Firemen’s Pention Fund, $24,000; Sales/Use Tax Bond Fund, $186,594.

The General Fund includes $590,083 includes carryover surplus funds from 2019, as well as $650,000 in property tax revenue.

The Ambulance Fund has unappropriated surplus of $246,850, while the Water Fund is $227,220, Sanitation Fund $64,794, Wastewater Fund, $111,175, Conservation Trust Fund $19,500, and Firemen’s Pension Fund $5,000.

The budget ordinance was passed on a 5-1 vote, with McCall casting the dissenting vote.

An ordinance setting the mill levy, used to determine the amount of property tax collected by the city in 2020, also was passed on first reading last week. City Clerk Karma Wells noted that the final numbers will be different than what is shown on the first reading as the Yuma County finishes the certification of assessed valuation and mill levies in coming weeks. As of now, the council has approved a levy of 30.684 mills, based on total assessed valuation within the City of Yuma at $25.612 million, which will raise an estimated $785,871 in property tax revenue for the city in 2020.

The mill levy, assessed valuation and property tax revenue numbers will be finalized prior to the ordinance’s public hearing and second reading in December.

The first reading of the mill levy ordinance passed unanimously.

One can find the full texts of all the budget-related ordinances inside this edition in the Public Notices section.

Amending 2019 budget

City administration presented an ordinance appropriating additional sums of money for some funds because they have or are expected to exceed their 2019 budgeted amounts. There are four funds included in the ordinance.

Wells told the council that most of the four might go over budget, so the increased appropriation is being requested just in case they do go over.

One fund that definitely is over, and caught the council’s eye, is the Reserve/Capital Projects Fund, which the ordinance calls for increasing from $145,000 to $1 million. It was explained that increase reflected the city’s purchase of land in the northeast corner of town for $750,000 early in 2019.

The other funds in the ordinance are: The General Fund increased from $3.39 million to $3.7 million; the Electric Fund from $3.05 million to $3.3 million, and; the Ambulance Fund from $542,145 to $575,000.

The first reading of the ordinance was passed on a 5-0 vote, with Saffer abstaining.

Well work

The council was asked to approve additional expenditures on repair work being done on the Hamrick Well located just west of town.

A resleeving project had been approved for this year, with $40,000 budgeted for the project. The resleeving is being done for about $26,000.

However, other issues have come up during the project. Moore told the council the well is in need of a new motor and pump. He said it appears the motor had not been grounded properly when first installed several years ago, leading to problems with the pump and also possibly being the cause for the sleeve problems.

The new motor and pump is going to cost $17,500, pushing the well repair project above the $40,000 budgeted amount by about $4,000. The council approved the additional expenditure.

Moore and Utility Manager Claude Strait also explained that the Koenig Well was brought online with the city at the same time as the Hamrick Well, and the same company also did that job. Therefore, they anticipate the same problem with the motor and pump, requiring replacement in 2020. The council was told, though, there at least does not seem to be problems with the sleeve on the Koenig Well.

More meeting

• The liquor license renewal for Log Cabin Liquor was approved unanimously.

• The city’s facility use agreement with Yuma School District-1 was approved for 2020. The cost to the city is the same, $5,500, as in 2019.

• An executive session was held at the end of the meeting for the evaluations for the city manager, city clerk/treasurer, and chief of police. There also was a conference behind closed doors with the city’s attorney, Kathryn Sellars, to receive legal advice on specific legal questions.

• Moore gave a report on the positive reaction within the community of the new sports court at City Hall. He also said it is possible the same material could be used for the bottom of the municipal swimming pool. He said it will require more investigation, but it is a possibility.