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Richland plans 15% electric hike, suffers 2 million gallon water leak
RICHLAND, Mo. (Feb. 18, 2009) — Members of the Richland City Council decided Tuesday night to ask their city attorney to draw up an ordinance to increase the city’s electrical rates by 15 percent, responding to a 12.5 percent increase from the city’s power supplier, Sho-Me Electric.

“Last year’s increase the city didn’t pass on to the citizens; we just kept it ourselves,” said City Administrator Anita Ivey, who said there would be “plenty of notification to the citizens” because the proposed rate increase wouldn’t go into effect until mid-April.

Other cities face much greater increases, Ivey said.

“(St. Robert City Administrator) Norm Herren told me his rate increase this year was 24 percent from Sho-Me,” Ivey said. “We’re in this boat with everybody else; it’s a sad boat to be in ... Last year we chose not to pass it on to the citizens, but this year to be fiscally responsible we’re probably going to have to.”

Alderman Mac Myers agreed.

“We’ve got to be fair to ourselves as well we try to be as fair as we can to our customers,” Myers said.

Other utility matters also came up at the city council meeting, including a vacancy on the city’s utility board, chaired by Ken Struckhoff with three additional members. One of those positions has been vacant since a board member resigned for family reasons.

“For the last three or four months, Ken and I have been trying to find somebody we can put on the utility board but no one has expressed any interest at all,” said Mayor Bob Wall.

Wall proposed appointing Lucy Henson, a former mayor who has run against him several times, but the motion died for lack of a second.

The city’s utility board met prior to the city council meeting, and according to Struckhoff, had to deal with a major water leak of more than 2 million gallons that has been billed to one of the city’s larger commercial customers. The leak was discovered about two weeks ago and had been leaking for an undetermined period of time since the prior monthly meter reading.

Water leaks usually don’t run into the millions of gallons, but Struckhoff said there was no obvious evidence of a leak with pools of water inside the building or working their way up to ground level.

“The breakage was adjacent to a broken sewer line that was able to carry the water away,” Struckhoff said.

The utility board had a lengthy closed session but Struckhoff said he couldn’t discuss the utility board’s recommendations of how the city should handle billing for the break.

“Since there is a possibility of tenant-leaser litigation, I can’t go into that,” Struckhoff said.

In other business:

• Councilmen postponed discussion of fireworks since the affected business owner was not present.

• Police Chief M.J. Hurney said his department had a “typical month” with 38 incidents being worked on, one still underway, 40 tickets issued and four written warnings.

• Councilmen tabled a proposed ordinance that would have paid for a city worker’s additional technical education in return for a commitment to stay a specified number of years, since the ordinance had been amended and needed to be re-posted.

• Ivey said the Pulaski County Growth Alliance, to which she is Richland’s appointee, is in the process of obtaining memberships and financial pledges.

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