Bloomfield discusses utility rate increases

Joshua Kellogg
Dave Sonnenberg, a city of Bloomfield Water Reclamation Facility operations foreman, talks Monday about repairs needed on the facility's settling tanks.

BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield City Council has decided to wait to publish a proposed ordinance that could increase water and wastewater utility rates and add a new monthly fee.

During tonight’s meeting, councilors discussed publishing an amended utility ordinance that would increase water and wastewater utility rates by 3.26 percent and introduce a new $5 monthly fee for customers.

City Manager Eric Strahl asked for input from councilors on the proposed rate increases and new fee.

Most of the councilors expressed concern about placing an additional burden on residents but noted the need for the city to generate additional revenue to maintain its drinking water and wastewater facilities.

Additional revenue from the monthly fee would be used only to fund new projects, replace aging equipment at Bloomfield's drinking water and wastewater facilities, and make payments on existing debt on those systems, Strahl said.

Broken concrete and an exposed steel bar are seen on Monday on a settling tank at the city of Bloomfield's Water Reclamation Facility.

The Daily Times reported the city has plans for three capital improvement projects related to drinking water and wastewater that are estimated to cost about $23.6 million. Those projects include replacing the wastewater treatment plant and a river bed filtration well, which would serve as a possible secondary source of drinking water.

Councilor Curtis Lynch said he was not in favor of increasing any utility rates.

“There are too many people that are out of work. You’ll have to figure something else out,” Lynch said.

Councilor Edwin Roark said he would like to use additional revenue from the monthly fee to replenish the city’s utility reserve funds.

The proposed monthly fee could generate about $183,000 in additional annual revenue, according to a memo written by Strahl to councilors and Mayor Scott Eckstein that was provided to The Daily Times.

Dave Sonnenberg, a city of Bloomfield Water Reclamation Facility operations foreman, talks Monday about the condition of the concrete at the facility's settling tank.

Jason Thomas, city engineer and public works director, spoke to the council about the importance of supplying quality water to Bloomfield residents as workers face issues with aging infrastructure.

“We have water delivery issues. Our distribution system has issues. Our (water) storage system has issues,” Thomas said. “And our Water Reclamation Facility has major issues.”

Toward the end of the discussion, councilors asked for more time to review the ordinance and suggested a version without the rate increase but with the $5 monthly fee.

The proposed ordinance will be discussed at the next council meeting on Sept. 26.

Joshua Kellogg covers education for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4627.