NORTH OGDEN -- Only one person spoke against the proposed utility rate increase at this week's city council meeting, and several others said they understand why a rate hike is needed.
The city had proposed a $2.31-per-month rate increase, but at the council meeting, Finance Director Debbie Cardenas asked to add another 50 cents to the increase to include an increase in water rates.
When she started looking at the rate, the water fund was losing money, she said, adding she felt it would be better to break even in that account and raise the water utility rate as well.
Councilman Wade Bigler wondered what was happening with the $100,000 the city had been saving each year for the public works complex.
Mayor Richard Harris explained the city hadn't budgeted that $100,000 for this year because it was planning to bond for the rest of the money.
City Manager Ed Dickie said not setting aside the $100,000, which had always been taken from reserve enterprise funds, made it so utility rates were going up less than they would have if the money had been set aside.
"So you were already taking extra from residents and now you want to take more?" Bigler responded regarding the annual $100,000 savings.
Cardenas explained the city wasn't taking the saved money from residents, it was money that was already in a reserve fund. She said the rate hike is needed to help funds break even and to allow for needed capital improvements like fixing breaks in sewer and water lines.
"Why in the world does this thing keep going up?" resident Denny Dunlap said to the council.
He expressed frustration because residents are keeping their wants and wishes on hold during tough times and it doesn't seem like the city is doing the same.
"You keep giving us excuses, and we need action," Dunlap said.
Resident Richard Kotter didn't agree.
"You are supplying me with a good drink of water, and it doesn't bother me to increase utility rates. Sometimes you get what you pay for," Kotter told the council.
Resident John Arrington pointed out that North Ogden's utility rates are much lower than those of many other cities in the county.
"I feel like the $45 I pay is a really good bargain. The service I demand is worth a $3 increase."
Arrington also said that, with the rising cost of fuel, utility rates are bound to rise to pay just for the use of public utility vehicles.
Resident Steve Kendell said he doesn't mind rates going up, but suggested that the city look into and explain why it is going in the hole every year.
Many residents brought up the public works complex and the idea that rates would have gone up $5 per month if the bond had gone into effect.
Cardenas said that the rates would have gone up $5 just for the bond and that an additional $2.80 would have been added to that to pay for capital improvements.
The council took no action on Cardenas' request to add the 50 cents and is expected to vote on the increase in the next month.