The Pawhuska City Council held a Special Meeting Wednesday Afternoon to receive a presentation from Arthur Pittman with Communities Unlimited regarding his recent rate study for Pawhuska, and to make a determination if the City of Pawhuska needs to increase the rates of their sewer and water utilities. Communities Unlimited a Non-Profit organization out of Fayetteville Arkansas which provided free water and wastewater rate studies along with other services.
Pittman conducted a short term rate study for sewer and water utilities for the months of March through June of 2016 and determined that, much like the previous fiscal year, the City would end the year in the negative to an amount of nearly $83,000 if utility rates were not increased.
The troubling results also presented another problem, if there was to be another issue with the Pawhuska water treatment facility or water lines, similar to those which caused a boil order in August, it would likely cost the City upwards of $3 million to replace. The City also would not be able to apply for grants to assist with the replacement of the treatment center or numerous aging water lines throughout the city without a rate increase.
The Study also showed that residents of Pawhuska pay some of the lowest prices for their water utilities in the region, and customers have not seen an increase in their water and sewer utilities since 2009, so the sudden increase will most likely be a shock.
City utility customers will see an increase of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons on their next sewer utility bill, which for many customers will amount to a $8.00 per month increase, and residents will see an increase to an $8.00 base price per month for 1,000 gallons and 25 cent per each additional 1,000 gallons on their water utility bill.
The Pawhuska City Council understood that an increase is not what anyone wants but it is what is necessary. They also stated that the goal is to create a savings for when the water treatment center will need to be replaced, and have funds to continue maintenance on the aging water lines until the 100 year old system can be replaced.