By Susan Redden
CARTHAGE, Mo. —
An 11.3 percent rate increase for residential customers of the Carthage Water and Electric Plant would be easier to manage if it were phased in, in smaller increments, one customer of the operation said Tuesday night.
“That sort of thing should happen gradually; I don’t know of anybody getting an 11 percent pay increase,” said John Bartaleeno, of Carthage, early Tuesday night while he was loading groceries into his car after shopping at a Price Cutter store.
But the increase, recommended by the Carthage Water and Electric Board, was advanced later Tuesday night by the Carthage City Council. Final action is set for May 22.
Officials of the city-owned utility say the increase is needed because of the cost of power that is purchased by CW&EP for use by its customers.
The hike would increase the average household customer bill for electricity, water and wastewater to $149.41 from $134.30, an increase of $15.11 per month.
The average residential customer uses 1,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity and 700 cubic feet of water.
The average commercial bill would increase from $714.42 to $795.88, an increase of $81.46 per month, or 11.4 percent. The average industrial bill would increase by 10.7 percent.
Bob Williams, CWEP chief executive, said earlier the utility is expecting “a very significant increase” in the cost of coal and the cost of transporting coal. Contracts for the coal and associated transportation costs are coming up for renewal after 12 years.
CW&EP buys most of its power from a plant in Sikeston. The plant is getting a major upgrade to comply with new Environmental Protection Agency emission standards for sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrous oxide that will take effect in 2014.
No council members commented on the rate hike Tuesday. The issue had been discussed by the council and CW&EP officials last week.
In other action Tuesday night, the council approved:
• A application for federal funds to help operate the city taxi program.
• A $5,400 lease agreement with Dennis and Carolyn Detert for the operation of the Carthage Golf Center.
• Appointments by Mayor Mike Harris naming Jake Heisten to the city Tree Board and Mark Elliff to the Enhanced Enterprise Zone Board.
• Acceptance of the donation of water rescue equipment to the Carthage Fire Department.
• The Dogwood Garden Club’s plan to adopt circular gardens at Central Park, pending further study of extending water and electricity to the site.
• Plans by the high school group Carthage in Action to proceed with signs to discourage smoking in city parks.
The council also approved a motion to close Kellogg Lake to fishing, starting June 4, to prepare for the annual Kids’ Fishing Day event set for June 9.