WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. – The City of Walnut Ridge is hosting a public meeting to talk about raising water and sewer rates for its residents.
The meeting will be Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 5 p.m. in the courtroom behind the Walnut Ridge Police Department. Mayor Charles Snapp intends to attend the meeting, officially organized by the Walnut Ridge City Water Board.
The board has presented Snapp with a plan to increase water rates by $4.10 on the first 1,000 gallons. The rates would remain at their current rate, $5.90, for each 1,000 gallons afterward. This would make a 4,000 gallon water bill cost $27.70, up from $23.60, according to Snapp. To compare, Snapp shared numbers from nearby communities of comparable size:
- Corning: $31.50
- Hoxie: $28.00
- Pocahontas: $22.20
- Tuckerman: $33.75
- Walnut Ridge: $27.70
This is not the only increase residents of Walnut Ridge are being asked to consider. Sewer rates are $3.50 per 1,000 gallons for each of the first 2,000 gallons, and afterward $4.40 for each $1,000. The proposal would raise the rate to an even $4.40 per 1,000 gallons across the board. Rates per 4,000 gallons of monthly usage would be $17.60 after the increase, up from $15.80.
- Corning: $20.13
- Hoxie: $19.20
- Pocahontas: $15.56
- Tuckerman: $18.50
- Walnut Ridge: $17.60
Snapp said the increases are necessary because the City Water Works lost in excess of $33,700.00 in their last fiscal year. He said the last water rate increase was in 2014 but the last sewer rate increase was in 2003.
“Here’s the deal – you can not operate in the red, especially something as important as water and sewer,” Snapp said. “I know we’ve taken a sanitation increase this year, but once we get the bills caught up/the departments caught up, this shouldn’t have to happen on a regular basis. Because people didn’t want to present the facts, the rates were held back when they should have been.”
The water board sets the water rates, while the city council must decide on raising sewer rates. Snapp said City Attorney Nancy Hall was drawing up an ordinance for the first of three readings to be at the August city council meeting. He expected the water board to make their decision once the council makes theirs.
Another worry Snapp made mention of in a Facebook post on the City of Walnut Ridge page was the need for the water tower at Stewart Park to be painted within the next several years. He said the estimate for the cost to paint the entire tower white was $100,000, not including the price to add stripes, which would cost $1,200 each. He said he did not think the cost was worth it for the purely-cosmetic striping, but emphasized the need to keep it painted to prevent rust from eating through into the interior of the tank.
“If we keep letting it go to where the rust gets through to the inside of the tank in the holding area, to where they have to go in and sand blast it, it could cost as much as a $1 million,” Snapp said.
(Photo Source: City of Walnut Ridge Facebook page.)