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Hannibal Courier - Post - Hannibal, MO
  • BPW Board considering rate hikes

  • It may have been April Fool’s Day, but the Hannibal Board of Public Works Board was not joking when it came time to consider utility rate hikes during a special work session on Tuesday in the BPW conference room.
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  • It may have been April Fool’s Day, but the Hannibal Board of Public Works Board was not joking when it came time to consider utility rate hikes during a special work session on Tuesday in the BPW conference room.
    The budget version Board members expressed the most support for includes a 5 percent increase in electric and water rates, plus a 5.5 increase for sewer. A minimum sewer rate increase of a 4.5 percent was required so that the bonds sold to raise money for needed sewer system improvements could receive a high rating.
    During the Board’s March 18 meeting, a handful of budget versions for the next fiscal year were reviewed. One of the versions assumed flat sales and no rate increases. Under that scenario the BPW’s Electric Department would lose an estimated $1 million while the Water Department would wind up in the red by approximately $360,000.
    “If we do not raise rates it would not be a good thing,” said Bob Stevenson, general manager of the BPW.
    Stevenson acknowledged that the Prairie State coal-fired power plant, in which the city owns a share, is still a “drag on the Electric Fund.” In a memo to the Board, Stevenson wrote that the BPW’s “patience (in Prairie State) will pay off in future as this drag becomes relatively less each year.”
    Ratepayers will have a chance to sound off. Before rate increases can be implemented a public hearing must be held.
    If adopted, the increases would continue an upward spiral. On July 1, 2013, electric (3 percent), water (4 percent) and sewer (4 percent) rates all went up.
    This would be the third consecutive year that electricrates have increased. After two consecutive years without a power rate hike, in 2012 residential customers alone saw a rate hike of 3 percent.  
    The 2012 increases were larger for water (10 percent) and sewer (8 percent), and included all rate classes.
    City water rates have been on the rise in recent years. Prior to 2011's 8 percent hike, water rates went up 3 percent for all classes of users on July 1, 2010. A 5 percent water hike took effect in 2009. The cost of sewer service went up 8 percent in 2011. On July 1, 2010, sewer rates increased 3 percent, which followed a 15 percent jump in 2009.

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