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Kyle, Texas
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July 16, 2014     Hays Free Press
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July 16, 2014
 

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Page 3A HEWS Hays Free Press July 16, 2014 + BY MOSES LEOS III moses@haysfreepress.com A settlement stabilizing wa- ter rate increases from Monarch increase rates in two phases. Utilities ends a yearlong dispute Phase I will bring a six percent between Kyle, Buda and the wa- rate increase beginning August ter utility company. 1. Phase II will add an additional However, Monarch custom- six percent increase starting on ers can still expect water bills January 1, 2016. to increase, despite avoiding a From January 1, 2017 to Jan- proposed 14.4 percent hike.uary 1, 2021, any annual rate "I think it's a fair settlement increases will be based on the based upon what we were look- Consumer Price Index (CPI) or ing at," Kyle council member the rate of inflation. That rate and Monarch Utility customer will be capped a three percent. Diane Hervol said. After 2021, an additional five- On July 1, Kyle City Council year extension could be grant- voted 6-0 to approve an ordi- ed. nance adopting a settlement'~s long as the inflation stays agreement with Monarch.Theyat a low level, there's a chance join the Buda City Council,of getting a five year extension," which passed a similar ordi- Jim Boyle, attorney representing nance 7-0 at its July 1 meeting, the coalition of cities against Under the settlement, Mon- Monarch's rate increases said. arch, which serves roughly 1,000 Under Phase I, the average homes in Buda and Kyle, will Monarch customer using 5,000 gallons of water would pay $78.87; Phase II would increase that rate to $83.60. It's a far cry from last Sep- tember, when Monarch, a sub- sidiary of the Southwest Water Company, filed an application to increase water rates with the Texas Commission for Environ- mental Quality (TCEQ). The company originally sought a 43 percent increase to compensate for improvements and increased water costs. Monarch's increase was low- ered to a 14.4 percent, span- ning a two-phase approach. Water rates would have JumPed roughly ten dollars for the av- erage 5,000-gallon water user within six months of 2013. Several cities, including Buda and Kyle, filed ordinances re- jecting the utility's rate increase. Monarch countered by submit- ting an appeal to TCEQ. Negotiations soon took place between the entities to resolve the issue. Boyle said the nego- tiations were professional, with all parties "responsive to each other in a good faith manner." As a result of the settlement, Monarch must withdraw its ap- peal to TCEQ. They also cannot apply for a rate increase without approval from city council. For Hervol, the settlement closes a saga that saw Monarch customers go through "ungod- ly" rate increases. "(Monarch) has escalated rates by substantial levels," Her- vol said. "It's never been five or six percent. It's 50 or 60 percent, then we have to fight to get it, back down." "No one likes to see rates increase for anything we con- sume," Gary Rose, director of operations, Texas Utilities of the Southwest Water Company said in an emailed response. "But we must make investment in wa- ter a priority for the sake of the economy, our health and our communities." Boyle said the move would give peace of mind to Monarch customers. "It will bring stability and pre- dictability to water rates and it will help with economic devel- opment," he said. Rate Hike: Buda water service cost Continued from pg. 1A from the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency (HCPUA). The rate fore- cast accounts for all three sources by 2016. LaBorde said the in- creases could change. "CIPs change and coun- cil may want to consider other things," he said. Buda customers could see the first increase this fiscal year. A 2.5 percent jump in the water rate is forecasted, with no waste- water increases. "When it was present- ed, [the council was] in agreement that everything looked good," Mayor Todd Ruge said. Last year, Buda resi- dents saw a four percent increase in water rates, two percent in wastewater. "It's never easy raising the rates on anything," Ruge said. "We looked at last year's (increase), and it's a pretty good deal." Council votes on the FY 2014 - 15 utility rate increase in August. Kyle residents may not see a water or wastewater rate itlcrease for the first time in three years. Perwez Mowheet, direc- tor of finance, said thus far in the budget process, the city doesn't expect to raise water or wastewater rates. Over the past three years, Kyle residents saw water rates increase by 70 percent; wastewater by 55 percent. While the city isn t an- ticipating a rate hike this year, increases could be on the horizon. Several variables could cause rate jumps, includ- ing the acquisition of ad- ditional water rights. Kyle currently has five water sources, which costs the city $3.53 million annually. Future expansion of the city's wastewater treatment plant could also raise rates. The plant, owned by Aqua Texas, has a capacity of 3.0 million gallons per day. Future expansion would call for an addition- al 1.5 MGD. "To build the next level I ' ' l : 1 of capacity...will neces- sitate a rate increase," Mowheet said. HarperWilder, public works director, said the city and Aqua Texas are debating whether the plant has reached the 75 percent capacity thresh- old. Per Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regulations, the plant must go through the expansion design process at that point. In addition, Kyle has been in litigation with Aqua Texas over ownership rights of the wastewater plant for the last several years. Mowheet said pay- ing Aqua Texas an acquisi- tion fee could also lead to a rate increase. Mowheet said the FY 2014-15 budget will be presented on July 31. "Our goal is that we present a balanced budget where there are no rate increases of any kind," Mowheet said. Residential water rates Buda (current) Water 10,000 9al 5,000 9al $40 $22 Wastewater $65 $47 Buda (proposed) 10,000 9al 5,000 9al lWater $41 $23, Wastewater $65 $47 Kyle (current) 10,000 gal 5,000 gal Water $86 $56 Wastewater $53 $35 Purchase, Refinance ......................... ...................................................... Quick Closings Convenient Onfine Appfication NOTICE OF SPECIAL ELECTION (AVISO DE ELECCION ESPECIAL) To the registered voters of the City of Kyle, Texas: (A los votantes registrados del Ciudad de Kyle, Texas) NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN THAT THE POLLING PLACES LISTED BELOW WILL BE OPEN FROM 7:00 AM TO 7:00 PM ON SATURDAY, AUGUST 9~ 2014 TO VOTE IN A SPECIAL ELECTION TO ELECT A COUNCIL MEMBER DISTRICT 3, TO FILL A VACANCY. (NOTIFIOUESE, POR LAS PRESENTE, QUE LAS CASIIJ,AS ELECTORALES CITADAS ABAJO SE ABRIR./~N DESDE LAS 7:00 A.M. HASTA LAS 7:00 P.M. EL 9 DE AGOSTO, 2014 PARA VOTAR EN LA ELECCIf)N GENERAL PARA ELEGIR A UN MIEMBRO DEL CONSEJO DE DISTRITO 3 PARA LLENARLA VACANCIA. LOCATION(S) OF POLLING PLACES: (DIRECCION(ES) DE LAS CASILLAS ELECTORALES) Kyle City Hall. 100 W. Center Street, Kyle, Texas Wallace Middle School. 1500 West Center Street, Kyle, Texa~ Chapa Middle School. 3311 Dacy Lane. Kyle, Texa~ EARLY VOTING BY PERSONAL APPEARANCE WILL BE CONDUCTED AT: (LA VOTACION ADELANTADA EN PERSONA SE LLEVARA A CABO EN): Kyle City Hall. 100 W Center St.. Kyle. Texas Between the hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on July 23 24, 25, July 29, 30, 31, and August 1, 2014, and between the hours of 7:00 am to 7:00 pm on July 28, 2014 and August 4, 2014.. Entre las 8:00 de la manana y las 5:00 de la tarde el 23, 24, 25 de julio, 29, 30, 31 dejulio, y el 1 de agosto, 2014, y entre las 7:00 de la manana y las 7:00 de la tarde e128 dejulio y el5 de agosto,2014. Applications for ballot by mail must be received no later than 5:00 p.m. on July 31,2014 and shall be mailed to: Lassolicitudes para boletas electorales de ausencia por correo deberdn recibirse para elfin de las horas de negocio 31 de julio de 2014 y deberdn enviarse a: Joyce Cowan (Nombre del Secretario(a) de la Votaci6n Adelantada) 712 South Stagecoach Trail (Address) (Direccio6n) San Marcos, Texas 78666 (City) (Ciudad) (Zip Code) (Zona Postal) ~ Joh~on, C~y Altomey + I I ]1 I [i ' ...... II - I I [iii