Water rate increase to help fund aging infrastructure

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) The decision to pass an ordinance to approve a water rate increase in Rapid City was met with mixed reactions.

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One side, lead by Tonchi Weaver, began circulating a petition to put the matter to public vote. While asked to join our in-studio discussion to debate the issue, Weaver declined.

City attorney, Joel Landeen tells KOTA Territory News the state allows cities to implement fees and rates through resolutions and ordinances. An ordinance is a long term policy or law.

Starting in 2015 the city began consolidating all of its fees and rates into a fee and rate resolution to adopt annually.

During a round-table discussion on Good Morning KOTA Territory, public works director Dale Tech said, "a good portion of the funding we collect goes toward is capital improvements. Every street project that you see, the water main is being replaced with it."

"We’re trying to be proactive with the funding we have to get out and replace aged infrastructure or infrastructure that’s having problems. Our operations folks keep track of where we have trouble spots in town and we target those spots for replacement," said Tech.

The council adopted the 43% fee increase based on a study done by a national firm.

"In roughly late 2016 the city commissioned another study to look at the rates, cost to providing safe drinking water, safe discharge of our waste water, that study has been accomplished and the recommendation is to raise rates approximately 7-10% over the next five years to cover the lack of funding," Tech said.