May 18, 2011 Edition

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Water rate increase
proposed in Hoxie

Leslie L. Ginn
Staff Writer

Issues affecting the City of Hoxie's budget were reviewed at the May 10 city council meeting.

Water and sewer billing continued to be a main topic for the council. Mayor Lanny Tinker reviewed the findings of the special budget analysis meeting held earlier in the month.

"Basically, the rates need to be set so that the Water and Sewer Department can stay in business," he said.

Hoxie Water Clerk Jenny Adkins said that 68 percent of the residents fall into the 1,000 to 5,000 gallon usage range. These residents will see a small increase. For example, the bill charged now for up to 2,000 gallons is $27.58 monthly; under the new rate levels a base bill will cost $29.99 monthly.

Those who use a greater amount of water will see a more significant increase. A resident who uses 35,000 gallons pays $113.58 now, but will pay $333.15 after the rate change.

A chart is available in the Hoxie courtroom for review so residents can project their new costs. This bill not only covers water, but also garbage, mosquito and fire department charges. The rate changes are expected to be put into effect in September.

It was also proposed to raise the cost of a water deposit for renters from $75 to $125 due to the consistent practice of some renters not paying their last bill. An ordinance covering these rate changes will be considered at the June council meeting.

Animal control to be reviewed

A committee is being established to develop a revised pet ordinance. Animal control is another high-cost item, with the average cost ranging between $500 to $700 monthly.

The committee is still open. Interested residents and council members are invited to volunteer. Tinker will head the committee and council member Sherry Moore volunteered to participate. Those interested can call City Clerk Katie Smith at 886-2742.

"We need to place the cost and responsibility on the dog and cat owners that are not taking care of their pets," Tinker said, "not on all the residents of Hoxie."

Mayor stresses need for cleanup

The spring cleanup was announced officially completed. The help of 30 volunteers was greatly appreciated, according to Tinker.

Residents are now asked to not leave out anything but regular household trash at the curb. Large items can be brought the first seven days of each month to a 20-yard truck that is located in front of the city shop or to Downum's Waste Services Inc. for a small fee anytime.

Tinker said, "There was $5,000 dollars donated from the mayor's salary to finance a large dumpster to help speed cleanup in Hoxie. However, already $4,000 has been spent on this dumpster and it is only May. We need to find a better long-term solution."

A concern was expressed that if Hoxie can't improve its appearance and start building more houses, then businesses won't be attracted to locate in Hoxie. Abandoned or damaged houses are also a problem. Some ADEQ and EPA regulations have increased the cost and delayed efforts to deal with these eyesores.

"Some regulations have forced us to hold trash within city limits. Although I am not opposed to regulatory agencies, it does hinder the small town in trying to clean itself up," said Tinker.

On April 18, Hoxie received a notice that the city hall is not in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act regarding accessibility. Hoxie was given 120 days to make needed changes. Renovation plans have been drafted and a base cost is estimated at $7,000, depending on the number of volunteers available.

The Hoxie Service Center is also undergoing renovation, including refinishing flooring and making minor repairs. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact the mayor at Hoxie City Hall.

Several personnel changes were also announced at the meeting. Mark VanBrook has accepted the position of full-time firefighter and fire chief. Cassie Sapp's job has recently been revised to include responsibilities in water meter reading, code and animal enforcement and floodplain administration.

The council also voted to approve the details of a previous sale of a truck, in connection with the fire department, for auditing purposed.

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