Tom Hell, St. Joseph
With this winter’s bitter cold, many cities are recommending homeowners run a continuous trickle of water to guard against water-line freezing. Since this procedure is a costly burden, some public utilities that felt it prudent to do so have offered rebates to homeowners.
I note St. Joseph’s response was to raise the rates on water and sewer. Since I am new to the area, I guess I will consider the price hike my gift from the Welcome Wagon.
(City Administrator Judy Weyrens responds: The City of St. Joseph, like area surrounding cities, does credit homeowners for sewer in the event they have to run water to prevent freezing. The maximum any resident will be charged for sewer is the amount they were charged in November/December. Using this billing cycle provides residents with the greatest credit for sewer. The cost of running water is less than having to hire a contractor to thaw a frozen line. Based on charges encountered by residents, the cost has been between $500-$750. There are of course some that are very simple and can be done for less. The minimal cost for coming out is $250, $50 for first hour and $150 for every hour thereafter.
Annually, when the budget is approved in December of each year, utility rates are reviewed and adjusted as necessary to keep the system operating. The utility rates increased Jan. 1, 2014, which were first reflected on the March bill. All municipalities review rates with the budget and adjust as needed. Unfortunately, the rates were applied the same time residents started running water. The rate increase, which was planned in December, had nothing to do with the water-line-freeze situation.)