Council to hold hearing over planned boosts to water, wastewater rates

May 22, 2017 GMT

A hearing over proposed water and wastewater increases designed to raise $1.48 million over the next two years will be an important topic of discussion during the Billings City Council’s Monday meeting.

Monday’s business session begins at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers at City Hall, 220 N. 27th St.

If the council approves the increases, the rate hikes will go into effect July 1. If the council disapproves, rates and fees will continue at their current levels, leaving what Public Works Director Dave Mumford called “insufficient revenues in the water and wastewater funds to sustain the adopted capital improvement program.”

About a dozen rate changes have been recommended based on the results of a cost of service study. Proposed rate changes include the resale rate for the County Water District in the Heights and wholesale rates for Lockwood Water and Sewer District and the Phillips 66 Billings Refinery, as well as system development fees for water and wastewater. The study, according to Mumford, allows Public Works officials to “adequately recover costs in proportion to the cost of providing service to each customer class.”

Three other public hearings are scheduled Monday:

A 4.08-acre flag lot that’s currently parkland is recommended for sale with the minimum bid at $88,900. The lot, according to Parks Director Michael Whitaker, has a 40-foot frontage between 248 and 336 Alkali Creek Road, with most of the property lying mid-block between Alkali Creek Road and Airport Road.Approval of the proposed Limits of Annexation Map. The map delineates areas where city officials believe they can deliver city services without severely reducing service delivery to current city residents.A proposed zone change, from Residential Multi-Family Restricted to Community Commercial, on a portion of the lot at 517 Lincoln Lane. The zone change will allow for the development of personal storage warehousing on the property.

In addition to holding those hearings, the council is scheduled to once again take up a zone change at the intersection of Covert Lane and Cody Drive in the Heights. The council conducted a public hearing on the proposed zone change — from Residential 7,000 to Residential 6,000 — on April 24, but chose to delay action until Monday.

A number of items are to be decided as part of the council’s consent agenda:

Awarding a $1.6 million contract to Knife River to shift a runway at Billings Logan International Airport 1,000 feet to the west. The move will give the airport 315,000 square feet of developable land for new cargo ramps and other facilities near the facility’s midfield point that could not be previously developed. The Federal Aviation Administration’s Airport Improvement Program will cover 90 percent of the costApproving an almost $57,000 change order at the Yellowstone Kelly Interpretive Site that will pave a trail, install a flagpole, add donor plaques and include a structure for a donor canopy. In its action, the council will also be approving a Billings Chamber of Commerce donation to cover the change order, the project’s third.Approving an American Airlines air service and minimum revenue requirements agreement. On June 2, the airline will begin nonstop service between Billings and Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas. The agreement spells out the minimum revenue requirements, airport landing fee waivers and the marketing support the airline requires. While the landing fee waiver will cost the airport about $46,000 annually, it stands to make about $150,000 by renting additional terminal space to the airline.Requesting the county’s election administrator, Bret Rutherford, to determine whether upcoming primary and general elections will be conducted by mail. Voting by mail will cost the city about $137,000 for the two elections. Using the traditional polling place voting method would cost the city about $205,000 for the two elections.