Discussion of probable water rate hikes during the Purcell Public Works Authority meeting Monday evening left at least two of the trustees with a bad taste in their mouths.

“I have a hard time raising rates,” mayor Ted Cox said.

It was a sentiment echoed by Graham Fishburn.

The two balked at alternatives that would set the city’s base water usage at 2,000 gallons instead of the present 1,000 gallons.

Currently, customers who use less than 1,000 gallons a month pay $10. The cost for 2,000 gallons is $15.50 per month.

The city has proposed raising the 2,000-gallon rate to $17.31 per month.

That amount would be a modest 10.4 percent increase for customers currently paying $15.50, but a whopping 71.1 percent hike for those whose current water bill is $10.

Twenty-five percent of residential customers currently pay $15.50 and 10 percent pay $10.

City manager Dale Bunn told the authority that the last water increase was in 2015.

The city’s present water rates are the lowest among six area cities – Lexington, Blanchard, Tuttle, Newcastle, Goldsby and Oklahoma City. Only Norman has a lower rate.

Projected annual minimum revenue from water at the existing rates is $1,849,657.

By tying water rates to inflation, that minimum revenue jumps to $2,068,304.

A second alternative which rounds the cost of living to the next five cents bumps the projected revenue to $2,073,314.

A third alternative of scaling charges to high demand would bring in $2,127,982.

Bunn would also like to see water rates adjusted for inflation every two years.

He pointed out that the water department presently operates on a $1.8 million budget. But that budget includes nothing for expanding the water system, replacing hydrants or installing new water lines.

During the city council portion of the meeting, Bob Dillon presented the annual financial statement and independent auditor’s report for fiscal year 2018-19.

The council awarded a $206,000 contract to Bohon Industries to make roof and water damage repairs to the Multi-Purpose Building.

They also approved the 2020 council meeting dates and city holidays and voted to declare portions of a city lot surplus property, which was then sold to Jaime and Patricia Resendiz.

Council members approved a $882.34 budget amendment for plan reviews and inspection at the new football field.

Also approved was an ordinance governing off-street parking at the site of the new hospital.

The parking will include one space per employee and one space for every two beds.  

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