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Joplin sewer rate increase takes a toll on out-of-city users suc - KOAM TV 7

Joplin sewer rate increase takes a toll on out-of-city users such as Duquesne, MO

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The 61 percent sewer rate increase in Joplin will take effect at the beginning of 2015.

While the increase has already been approved by the Joplin City Council, discussion is currently underway on how the increase will impact out-of-city users such as Duquesne, MO.

Duquesne resident Bill Hinkle's current sewer rate averages around $48 a month.

However, over the next five years, that amount will grow to as much as $78 a month.

"Both ends of the spectrum are where it will really hurt," Hinkle said. "The younger ones that are really trying to get started, and the older ones that are struggling to figure out how long am I going to live, and how long am I going to have to stretch this money out."

Duquesne residents currently pay more than Joplin residents because of a 30 percent surcharge for out-of-city residents.

"Their fees and their payments go directly to the system like residents of the community do," said Nick Heatherly, Public Works Director for the City of Joplin. "All of those revenues are used to pay for the operation and maintenance of the City of Joplin's wastewater treatment facilities."

Three years ago, all Duquesne residents using septic tanks, installed sewer lines and joined Joplin's system. 

Residents continue to pay off the installation of those lines at $20 a month.

"We took about $4 million in bonds, so it's like taking out a loan from the bank to build the sewer system," said David Weaver, assistant to the mayor for the City of Duquesne.

That debt service, combined with the surcharge and new increase, results in the nearly $1,000 a year, the average Duquesne resident is expected to pay for sewer in 2019.

Duquesne officials hope to lessen that impact by either reducing the surcharge, or re-examining the rate study on which their agreement with Joplin is based.

"Since a lot of the amount of that rate study is applied to things that don't relate to treating or transporting of our sewer, we're asking the question, can we do something there to help our citizens out?" Weaver said.

"At least they should look at every way that they can possibly try to save the people out here any money that they can," Hinkle said.

Duquesne residents will see the same base sewer rate increase as Joplin residents over the next five years, beginning with an 8 percent increase in 2015.
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