Council approves final three budget ordinances

Members of the Gering City Council met in special session Monday to pass three ordinances so new service rates could be included in the new city budget. Gering residents will see a slight increase in the cost of city services over the next year.

With a supermajority present, members of the Gering City Council passed its final three ordinances calling for slight increases in some city services.

Council members met at noon Monday so the ordinances could go into effect along with the new 2019-2010 city budget, which runs Oct. 1, 2019, through Sept. 30, 2020.

“We had to get those approved because they’ve already been included in the new budget,” said City Treasurer Renae Jimenez. “We absorbed what cost increases we could, but some of them had to be passed along to the residents.”

She said no one likes to see increases in utility rates, but some of them are needed due to mandates of the state and federal government. Water treatment and a federal surcharge for stormwater runoff are among them.

The minimum rate for water usage among residential, commercial, business and industrial users was lowered from 4,000 to 3,000 gallons. The minimum charge is now $15.25 per 3,000 gallons for 5/8-inch and ¾-inch water meters. The charge for up to 150,000 gallons is $1.55 per 1,000 gallons.

Sanitation service fees will also see an overall 5% increase. For residential customers, the minimum billing for using the Gering landfill is now $16.60 per month. Increases for commercial and business customers were also made, based upon the rate for a three cubic yard container per month, picked up weekly.

The final ordinance passed by the council increases fees for stormwater surcharge per customer from $1.25 per month to $1.50. The fee increase would help the city fund mandates under the federal Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

In 2017, Gering joined Scottsbluff and Terrytown in an interlocal agreement to cooperate on implementing the federal stormwater management plan.

The plan is part of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act to protect the public health and environment. It lists a number of factors that can affect water quality, including population growth, aging infrastructure, increasingly complex water quality issues and other economic challenges.

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Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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