Buffalo's City Council had their first reading of Ordinance No. 1360, which will raise sewer rates across the board by 100% if passed on three readings. The council approved the first reading, but not before discussions that included the possibility of making the rate increases incrementally over time.
The council sits in an unfavorable position where they must (by state statute) raise rates to pay for the new waste water treatment plant but not wanting to raise rates and add another financial burden to its citizens during these tough economic times.
The city was required to build the waste water treatment plant, which was an unfunded mandate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). State statute says the sewer enterprise fund must pay for itself through sewer rates only, which is why the rate increase is necessary.
Although none of the council members wan to raise rates, they understand there isn't a lot they can do except pass the rate increase on to those that use the system.
Councilman Dave Long said he wanted to look into other possibilities of funding the waste water plant, loans and depreciation fund without raising rates on Buffalo's citizens, which the council agreed to let him try.
Councilmen Bill Hawley, Stan Lakin and Mayor Randy Dyess voted to pass the Ordinance on first reading, while councilmen Long and Russ Humphrey voted against it.