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Farmersville may raise sewer rates

Farmersville may raise sewer rates

Farmersville residents may have to pay more for sewer this year, but city officials don’t see any other way of solving one of its most pressing issues.

At its Dec. 10 meeting, the Farmersville City Council voted 5-0 to form a committee to inform the public about the reason for the potential increase. No action will be taken on rates until after a recommendation from the committee, as well as exhausting all possible funding sources, such as grants.

A representative from Sunset Waste Systems, Inc. said that the sewer treatment plant was 75% full and a wet winter could cause some serious problems. That could raise flags with the State Water Quality Control Board, which would result in a cease and desist warning similar to the one Woodlake received in 2001. Woodlake’s new waste water treatment plant opened last year at a cost of $19.3 million.

“We are looking to start a community outreach program to keep the public informed as to what’s going on with the new waste water plant,” City Manager Rene Miller said.

One of the possibilities the community faces is a raise from $23.75 a month for sewer fees to as much as $56 a month. The raise in fees will pay for the building and operating cost of a new waste water treatment plant. There was also discussion about raising the rates in small increments over several years.

“We have payments we have to make every year and those won’t be made if we do not raise the rates,” Miller said. “We have to show how we can payback the loans to get them. The treatment plant now is close to capacity and we have to do something.”

The City Council also approved for city staff to proceed with a community outreach program regarding the Waste Water Program.

Gomez said, “So the city is in real trouble if we don’t raise the sewer rates?”

Council member Larry Miller said, “The city is in real trouble if we don’t expand the sewer system. That has to be done.”

Rowlett said, “That is why I have kept my mouth shut and not made any promises I could not keep. I knew this was coming.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting, citizens expressed concern with the drainage problems on west Costner Street, saying how the street floods even during a light rain.

Mayor Leonel Benavides said, “Right now, as a city we do not have the funds to repair it, but we have not forgotten it. I wish I could say more, but that is where we are at.”

Mike Winton from Omni Means updated the council on the status of the Farmersville Boulevard Improvement Project.

“The acquisition process to purchase the right of ways along the boulevard should begin in January 2013,” said Winton. “We are dealing with 20 or 30 parcels so that process could take up to a year.”

Farmersville Police Chief Mario Krystic received approval to temporarily lift the City’s hiring and hire two police officers. The new officers will replace one officer who went to work for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department and Lt. Mike Marquez who was named Woodlake’s new Chief of Police last month.

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