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Mustang City Manager, Tim Rooney (left), and Mayor Jay Adams discuss the possibility of raising the city’s water rates at a work session on Monday night. (Staff photo by Jon Watje)

By Jon Watje
Managing Editor 

Mustang officials said a proposal to increase water rates will go before the City Council at their next meeting. 

City Manager Tim Rooney told City Council members and city staff at a Monday work session that a proposal to increase water and sewage rates by 7 percent will be on the Council’s agenda on Tuesday, Aug. 19.

"We purchase water from Oklahoma City and they are looking at increasing their rates by 18 percent," Rooney said. "The City of Mustang has not raised its rates since 2004."

The proposed rate would increase rates the following way: $1.87 increase for 2,000 gallons a month; $3.39 for 5,000 gallons; $4.44 for 7,000 gallons and $6.01 for 9,000 gallons a month.

Rooney also proposed adding a monthly $1.50 capital improvement fee on utility bills and taking away a $1.50 refuse charge.

"Cities like Norman, Edmond and Lawton have capital improvement fees and this would help us save up some money for projects we need to do down the road," Rooney said.

Assistant City Manager Justin Battles gave a presentation at the work session about some of the capital improvement needs. He pointed out several needs including a pilot arsenic program to treat water at some of the city’s wells, including upgrading a lift station, replacing sewer lines and modifications to the wastewater treatment plant.

"I think it is very important that we put some kind of plan in place and start putting money aside for some of these projects," Battles said.

Rooney said the $1.50 fee on utility bills would generate $125,000 a year to go towards capital improvement projects.

Ward 6 City Councilman Jess Schweinberg said he believed the capital improvement fee should be higher than $1.50.

"We need a higher fee if we are going to make a dent in the cost for those capital improvement projects," Schweinberg said. "I think the residents would receive a fee for capital improvements better than increasing rates because Oklahoma City raised theirs. With that fee, they are investing in the future of the city’s water system."

Rooney said he would give the City Council alternatives in how much the fee would be, if they approved a fee at all.

Staff also recommended changing or adding one-time fees such as residential, commercial, and rental deposits, disconnects, chronic disconnect due to non-payment, account holds, tampering and illegal hook-ups.

"Many of these fees have not been changed since the 1980s while others are fees that are currently not being charged," Rooney said. "Staff strongly recommends the City Council include language in any ordinance regarding utility rates to also include language that passes along to Mustang customers any future increase charged to the City of Mustang from Oklahoma City. Historically, this has not been done and should be automatic."

Mayor Jay Adams said he agreed with Rooney.

"Since the last time Mustang raised its rates, Oklahoma City has raised their rates by a total of 46 percent while we didn’t raise ours," Adams said. "That really hurts us."

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