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Pine River City Council mulls $5 water rate increase - Pine and Lakes Echo Journal - Energy And Water Development Corp

Pine River City Council mulls $5 water rate increase – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal


PINE RIVER — For much of 2022, the Pine River City Council has been discussing an eventual drinking water treatment facility to improve capacity of the city’s current drinking water systems.

The city has five wells, including two deep wells that provide water to its towers. Some of those wells are not in use.

Well 3 is the highest capacity well in the city and one of its two deep wells. It also has the worst water quality with high iron content.

Well 2 has a high manganese content and can be used at this time only for emergencies.

Well 4 is the city’s other deep well, but it also has higher iron, though less than well 3.

Throughout 2022 the city has been testing the effectiveness of treating water from wells 2 and 4 to bring them back into use. The two wells combined would provide more than double the capacity of the city’s current operating wells.

After determining that those wells could be put back into service with use of a water treatment facility, the council is now seeking ways to pay for the project.

There are new funds for treating manganese concentrations in well water, which could pay for much of the project or at least increase availability of loan funds.

However, to qualify for those funds the city will be expected to meet certain qualifications.

Bryan Drown, city engineer, said one of those requirements is that the city must charge a minimum rate based on the current median household income.

Using the calculations available, the city would need to charge a minimum $35 per month for water service. Currently the city charges $29.50 a month with an expected increase to $31 in January.

Unless the water rate is increased, the city likely won’t qualify for the funds they are seeking.

Though council members did not seem keen on a sudden increase, they all agreed that bringing two of the city’s five wells back into service is important and necessary.

They did not vote to increase the rate at its Monday, Nov. 7, regular meeting. They likely would have to increase it before April or May when the powers that be begin distributing funds.

The council did have to decide whether to direct Drown to proceed with designing the facility. Public Works Director Mike Hansen warned that design would be costly, and if the council moves forward with a design they should proceed as if they were prepared to back the project in its entirety.

If the city receives grants or bonds to pay for the project, what they pay for the design will ultimately be reimbursed upon approval.

The council is not locked into moving forward with the entire project yet, but they agreed to seek a design so they can reach an accurate cost estimate for the project, currently estimated at $24,000 a year for 20-30 years.

Drown said the city has two loans that will end this year, already freeing money for payments.

Hansen said with the water rate increase, the city would have more than enough money to pay for bonds and leave the city water service funds on good footing. Hansen also said that with the water treatment facility, Pine River’s water would be both filtered and chlorinated, changing the water quality for its users.

In other business Monday, the council:

  • Agreed to amend its public nuisance ordinance regarding snow removal, now allowing the city to charge a fee for removal of snow that has been “deposited in a street, public right of way, sidewalk, private property without permission, in a parking area front of another person’s business or within 50 feet of an intersection as to create a sight impairment.”
  • Approved hiring a part-time officer at a rate of $21 an hour.
  • Approved renewing Closeout City’s pawn shop license and Holiday Station’s 3.5 liquor license contingent on final paperwork.
  • Approved sale of a 3.7-acre parcel in the industrial park to Craig Anderson of Trussworthy Components for $16,000. Anderson plans to use the property to store trusses built at his facility.
  • Approved a request by the Cass County Agriculture Association to allow sale of advertising space on the building and fences around the Cass County Fairgrounds.

The council met a day early this month because of the Tuesday, Nov. 8, general election.
Travis Grimler is a staff writer for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal weekly newspaper in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He may be reached at 218-855-5853 or travis.grimler@pineandlakes.com.





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