Public meeting set for June 26 for discussion of water rate hike

By Ben Woods

The Linden City Council discussed a water rate increase during its June 12 meeting, as well as beginning a sinking fund, and voted to have a public meeting on the issue. 
Linden City Administrator Bob Swisher spoke about aging infrastructure and the need for a sinking fund for repairs now and in the future. 
“We have equipment that needs repair and we are holding back on these things to try and stay on budget,” said Swisher. 
“We are putting no money ahead for repairs and as the system runs it’s burning it up, and instead of having bonds and getting into debt … I would like to start a sinking fund,” said Swisher. 
Swisher explained that it is the larger water users, such as restaurants and gas stations, that would see the larger increase in rates, not residential users.
“The average two-bedroom house that uses 2,000 gallons a month will most likely only see a $7 raise in their bill,” said Swisher. 
“We are not going to mess with the little guy, the bigger pieces will come in from the bigger users of water. 
“This is why I am recommending this rate scale and we have looked at it, but I would like everyone to look at it and have a public meeting.
“We cannot just go along where it is at -- it is not going to work into the future and we need to take a hard look at the large users,” he continued. 
Swisher spoke about city workers and him spending time on water system maintenance that is not being accounted for in the water budget and how it impacts city funds. 
“I spend about half of my time on water issues, whether it be service to client or TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) or sewer or garbage -- all of these things take up more than half of my time,” said Swisher. “What we are going to do is adjust the water budget to where it reflects better the actual cost of the water we are producing and not shorten the city’s budget because It’s helping on the water side.”
A public meeting to discuss the water rate has been set tentatively for Monday, June 26 at 6 p.m. at the Mary Daughety Senior Center.

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