City council notebook — Storm-water fee to increase

Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

A $1-per-parcel increase in Rochester’s monthly storm-water utility fee will take effect in June.

The city council voted 6-1 on Monday to approve a four-year utility rate plan that includes this year’s $1 increase — technically, the imposition of a new, per-parcel "customer charge" that will be added to the current $3-per-parcel storm-water utility fee.

The fee structure is based on the method other utilities use to set rates, officials said. Rochester Public Utilities, for example, charges its customers a fixed "customer charge" plus an "energy charge" that varies from month to month depending on how much electrical power a customer uses.

In the case of the storm-water utility fee, neither the customer charge nor the utility fee will vary from one residential property to the next. Businesses, however, already are charged rates that vary from one property to the next based on factors such as lot size and lot coverage with pavement and buildings.


For residents, the $4 fee is scheduled to rise another $1 in 2009, with an additional customer-charge increase.

In 2010, the residential customer charge will rise 50 cents, and the $3 utility fee will rise 3 percent, resulting in an overall 59-cent increase. The overall fee will be $5.59.

And in 2011, the customer charge will rise 50 cents, plus the utility fee will increase another 3 percent. That will raise the overall residential storm-water utility fee to $6.18 per month.

The fee increases were prompted by a recognition that the storm-water utility does not have enough revenue to keep up with even its most necessary and desirable projects.

The city council also approved a revised capital-improvement budget, reducing storm-water project expenditures by 55 percent over the next five years, to include only the most necessary projects from the previous list.

Council President Dennis Hanson voted against the fee increase, saying he was opposed to having a storm-water utility fee in the first place.

Council member Pat Carr, later in the meeting after the vote, said he also had intended to oppose the increase, and he asked for reconsideration. His motion did not receive a second.

Center Street assessments


Property assessments totaling $670,000 to rebuild Center Street from First Avenue West to the west end of the Zumbro River bridge were approved with no public objection.

The assessments make up nearly one-third of an overall $2.1 million budget to rebuild Center Street, which has concrete pavement that is nearly 36 years old.

The street project is scheduled for this summer. Besides replacing pavement, it will add new traffic signals and protected left-turn movements at three intersections, add new sidewalks, and add new streetlights and landscaping.

Jeffrey Pieters

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