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Ironton City Council increases fees

Average bills to go up around $17

Ironton residents will see their city fees go up by about $17 per month.

At a meeting on Saturday morning, the Ironton City Council passed six ordinances that will raise rates on city residents.

The Ironton City Council voted to pass Ordinance 18-78, which increases the storm water fee by $1.30 to $4.30 per 1,000 gallons use, Ordinance 18-79, which created a flood prevention fee of $5, Ordinance 18-80, which increases wastewater fees by 29 cents to $8.49 per 1,000 gallons, Ordinances 18-81, which increases the municipal fee by $1.64 to $15.64 per month, Ordinance 18-82, which increases the water fee by 65 cents to $6.44 per 1,000 gallons used, and Ordinance 18-83, which creates an economic development fund with a $1.50 monthly fee.

Based on average household usage of 4,000 gallons of water monthly, the estimated increase of water, storm water and wastewater fees and the municipal fee increase, the economic development and flood prevention fee, the estimated total increase is $17.10 per month.

The fees will show up on February bills, except for the municipal fee, which takes effect immediately.

The city council has been talking about increasing rates for several weeks, saying that the city does not have enough revenue coming in to meet the city’s needs and there wasn’t any place to cut personnel without cutting required services. Fee increases will be used to cover such things as repairs to the water treatment plant, fixing the 1940s-era flood control system and hiring an economic development director to bring businesses to the city.

Most council members said they didn’t want to raise fees, but that there was no other way to get revenue into the city coffers. And if the city can’t run a deficit budget, the state would take over until it the budget is balanced again.

Council member Nate Kline said he voted against all the ordinances except for the economic development fee.

“I made it pretty well known that I was going to support something that is a long-term solution to the city’s problems,” he said. “I wasn’t looking for anything that was band aid.”

He said he understood the city needs to be operating in the black in 2019.

“But these patches, I couldn’t support,” he said. “Various issues need to be address and to go on.”

He said he saw the economic development fee as a move in the right direction and that what he would like to see is more development in the Gateway Project and to see the old Ironton Iron property be put to use.

Ironton Finance director John Elam said that based on 10 months of actual data for billing and collections for 2018, and applied to 2019 projections, rounded to the nearest $1,000, the fees are estimated to bring in the following: municipal fee, $88,000; economic development fee, $80,000; water, $201,000; wastewater, $90,000; Storm water, $286,000; and flood prevention, $268,000.

“That will allow us to break even at the end of 2019,” Elam said, but added that with efficiencies and collections, the actual amount coming in can go up and down.