Wednesday, April 23, 2014
   
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You may rethink cranking up heat

City electrical, water hikes reflected in February bills.

Turning down thermostats in the winter and up in the summer may become a priority for local residents and businesses.

Electric bills in February will rise about 5.7% as a result of Gothenburg City Council action on Jan. 3.

Monthly water rates will increase 50 cents.

For residential customers, who now pay $100 for electricity, the hike will mean an extra $5.70 a month. However the cost will vary based on seasonal use, size of household, etc., according to city administrator Bruce Clymer.

City officials attribute the increase to a near 7% average rise in wholesale power charged by the Nebraska Public Power District, the entity that sells power to the city.

NPPD officials said over half of the increase is mostly because of a 75% increase in coal transportation this year.

Rising fuel prices, the power company pays to generate electricity at its power plants, also contribute to the overall hike as does debt for electric system plants and facilities.

Water rates will go up from $15.70 to $16.20 per month, for residents with three-quarter-inch lines. Commerical rates will increase an additional .05 cents per 1,000 gallons used.

The increase is an average of 3% because of the cost of doing business, Clymer said.

In addition, the council has budgeted $642,330 in water improvement projects.

For the past four years, the council has voted to raise electrical rates because of rising costs in wholesale power.

Council members, in 2011 and 2010, voted to increase electrical rates 6.5%. Rates rose 5% in 2009.

The last time water rates were raised was a year ago when they went up a dollar a month.

In related action, the council passed a law that cleans up language relating to the collection of utility bills.

In other business, the council:

passed a law about reviews of building plans by the state fire marshal. The fire marshal inspects buildings with certain dimensions, and planned by engineers, that are occupied by more than 20 people. The marshal must receive building plans.

amended a section of the utility policy and procedures manual to say that the billing cycle is based on usage recorded on meters each month.

With the exception of general service demand time of use customers, whose meters are read after midnight of the last day of each month, electric meters are read on or around the 25th of each month.

learned that the city employee recognition dinner will be Friday, Jan. 27.

heard that an auction of city equipment—a 2008 Chevy Impala, bikes, computers and an industrial mower—netted $6,200.

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