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Minden water rates going up

by Sheila Gardner

Minden residents will get the first look at a proposed 6 to 12 percent hike in water rates when the town board meets Wednesday. Rates have not been raised since 1996.

“We’re asking the public to participate with us in a dialog regarding rates for the town water system and to give us guidance as to the general approach they would like us to take in ensuring we have adequate funding to operate the system,” said Bob Hadfield, Minden Town Board chairman.

“When I say ‘to operate the system,’ I primarily mean to pay for pumping and delivering water to our current customers,” Hadfield said.

Hadfield said historically development has helped pay for well capacity and the delivery system.

“Members of the town board believe we can no longer absorb these added costs due to the fact that the housing growth and commercial development in town has slowed over recent years. No funds are coming from developers or homeowners to maintain the system in what we consider to be excellent condition,” Hadfield said.

Under the new structure, the $19 monthly rate for single-family homes would increase $1.14 at 6 percent to $2.28 at 12 percent. The rate hike will take effect July 1.

He said the board is considering a number of approaches including an annual review of water rates with a possible hike or bigger increases that would last several years.

“The difficulty with that is that people new to the town, or older residents such as myself tend to forget when the last increase was,” Hadfield said. “When we are confronted with high single- or double-digit increases, it tends to have an explosive impact.”

“One thing certain is that we want people to understand that we are concerned and we hope residents will attend and express their feelings,” he said.

He emphasized that the rate hike has nothing to do with Minden Well No. 1, which has been shut off pending clean-up of a nearby leak of the gasoline fuel additive MTBE. The additive never reached the town’s water supply and the well is being tested so it can be put back in service.

The town serves 1,085 residential and 185 commercial customers.

The rate hike will be discussed at 7:20 p.m. The new schedule is available for review at the town office, next to the CVIC Hall on Esmeralda Avenue in Minden. For information, call 782-5976.