Two cities, including MH, raise water rates, others close

Two cities in the Twin Lakes Area, including Mountain Home, are raising water rates following action by their city councils.

In Mountain Home, the council voted at its last meeting to raise water and sewer rates by 1.5 percent. The rate hike is in accordance with a city ordinance passed in 2017, which allows the Mountain Home Water and Sewer Department to ask the council for an increase based on the south region Consumer Price Index. The index is released each January, and the water and sewer department submits a proposal to the council each February for consideration. An increase was approved in 2017, but not last year.

Water and Wastewater Director Alma Clark says the average customer in Mountain Home using the minimum 2,000 gallons per month or less will see a 49-cent increase per month. For a user in the city using 4,500 gallons, the increase will be 72 cents. Commercial users in Mountain Home using the minimum will see a 79-cent bump each month, and it's $1.02 for commercial customers using 4,500 gallons.

For those Mountain Home water customers who live outside of the city limits, the increase will be 47 cents for the minimum and 67 cents for those using 4,500 gallons per month. Commercial customers outside of Mountain Home will have an 85-cent increase for the minimum use and $1.05 for 4,500 gallons.

The rate increase will not affect the water sold to other suppliers, such as Northeast Water Association and the Lakeview Midway Water Authority.

Clark says based on last year's usage, the increase would bring in an additional $52,000 from water users and $41,000 from sewer users.

At Bull Shoals, the city council last Thursday approved the first water rate increase there in five years. Mayor David Nixon says in those five years, the rate they have to pay has increased twice, including this year. Nixon says most customers have a 3/4" line or smaller. For those customers, the minimum bill for water for 2,000 gallons will increase $1.10, with a 55-cent increase for each additional 1,000 gallons. Minimum sewer rates for 2,000 gallons are increasing $4.60, with each additional 1,000 gallons increasing 80 cents.

Mayor Nixon said before the increases were approved, Bull Shoals water and sewer customers' rates were in the lowest 30 percent in the state. With the increase, he says they are still well below the state average.

At Valley Springs, the city council recently heard the first of three readings of a water rate hike of $2 per month and 45 cents per 1,000 gallons each month. The council was told Ozark Mountain Regional Water Authority, a supplier of treated water for Valley Springs, is raising rates by 10 percent this year. The water system is also losing $100,000 worth of water each year. Water Superintendent Josh Trammell says the infrastructure of the system is aging and to fix one problem area along Highway 206 will cost at least $1.4 million.

The Valley Springs council will hear the second reading of the ordinance later this month.

Officials in Diamond City are also looking at a water rate increase, due to the 10 percent hike by the Ozark Mountain Regional Water Authority. The Diamond City City Council started discussion on the topic at its meeting last week.

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