Council to continue water rate discussions, will hold hearings for tax rate and city budget
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove city council is holding a special meeting on Tuesday, August 22 at 5 p.m. at the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation building, located at 210 S. 1st St.
Part of the meeting will include further discussions on city utility rates for the upcoming fiscal year which begins Oct. 1, 2017. This will be the fourth such discussion by the council during the month of August, after a July 13 presentation by public utility consultant Raftelis, which conducted a rate study on the city’s water and sewer funds, the first such study in about five years.
During its August 8 meeting, the council proposed raising base rates for both water and sewer across the board from $11 to $11.77 per month for those with 3/4” meters. For water volumetric rates per 1,000 gallons, the council proposed going from $4.05 to $4.10 per 1,000 gallons and from $5.67 to $5.90 per 1,000 gallons for wastewater/sewer. The drainage fee and solid waste collection fees would not increase.
The council has requested that the winter averaging and 8,000-gallon floor be removed from the proposed rate calculations for sewer costs to customers.
Another rate-related point of discussion for the council is possibly doing away with the senior citizen discount, which gives utility customers age 65 and over a 20 percent discount on their entire utility bill.
At this point, the city is projecting about $374,000 in lost revenue for the current fiscal year, something it tracks yearly. The discount—in differing forms—has been a city ordinance since 1985. However, a 2010 memo from the city’s law firm questions the legality of the discount according to state statute.
The council will also hold the second public hearing for the proposed property tax rate of 79.7908 cents per $100 of taxable assessed value. The first hearing was last Tuesday, August 15.
The council is also holding a hearing for amendments to the 2017-2018 proposed city budget for changes presented after the first public hearing for the proposed budget, which was held on August 1. The council will give its final approval for a 2017-2018 city budget at its Tuesday, September 5 meeting.
Among the changes proposed by the council since that first public hearing include the general fund requests from local organizations Cove House, Boys & Girls Club, Noon Exchange Club, Prepared 4 Life, Hill Country Community Action Association, as well as approving the development services liaison position, and funding city engineering services via contracts instead of an in-house engineer.
The proposed budget also includes proposed base rate and volumetric rate increases for water and sewer services, as well as allocations of the city’s hotel occupancy tax funds.
The council will take a vote to adopt the final budget along with the proposed fee schedule at its September 5 meeting.