Buffalo City Council Considers Sewer Rate Increase

Buffalo's waste water treatment plant
Buffalo's waste water treatment plant

Although no action was taken to either approve or dismiss a rate increase, the Buffalo City Council, at their meeting Tuesday evening, Discussed the possibility and the reasoning behind a sewer rate increase in the coming months.

City Clerk Julie Silbernagel said the city has been tracking costs to operate the new waste water treatment plant since it began operation a few years ago, with the city anticipating a future rate increase to help repay the loan for the plant, its everyday operational costs, and to put money aside for future required maintenance.

The plant cost roughly $12 million to build, with the city getting the majority of the funding from the Wyoming Water Development Commission to build it and taking out a $2.7 million loan for the remainder of the costs. That $2.7 million loan is what needs to be payed back to the WWDC.

Councilman Russ Humphrey spoke against raising rates in this economy, saying those on fixed incomes cannot afford the increase. Although none of the councilmen were necessarily for an increase, they said they understood it was necessary, and would try to lessen the impact it would have on everyone's bill.

Preliminary numbers were crunched by Silbernagel, and to cover operational costs, pay back the loan and set aside some for future maintenance would increase the average monthly city utility bill by $10.30.

By state law, enterprise funds, like water and sewer for municipalities, must be solvent, or pay for themselves. They cannot operate at a loss or a profit, only pay expenses.

The council will gather more information and discuss the possible rate increase at their next meeting in January.

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