Oak Creek holds off on votes on utility hikes | SteamboatToday.com

Oak Creek holds off on votes on utility hikes

Water meter installations examined for 2009 budget; Elk's Tavern liquor license renewed

Melinda Dudley

— The Oak Creek Town Board held off voting on proposed utility increases at its meeting Thursday night to allow further discussion about installing water meters for town customers before finalizing the 2009 budget.

Residential customers would see their combined water-sewer bill rise about 50 percent, from $55 to $83 a month, if the proposed increases are approved. Trash bills would increase a total of $3 a month per household.

The town charges a flat rate for water service because consumption is not metered in Oak Creek. However, the Town Board long has had a goal of changing that, and its members are examining whether such a project could be accommodated in the 2009 budget.

The trustees will hold a work session at 7 p.m. Thursday at Oak Creek Town Hall to tackle the issue of water meters, including the cost and procedure for installation.

Increases in electric rates also were recommended Thursday night by Billy Cutsor, a resource planning engineer with Municipal Energy Association of Nebraska, the town’s electric supplier. According to a recent rate study conducted by MEAN-affiliate Nebraska Municipal Power Pool, power rates charged to customers should increase 10 percent in 2009 and another 5.7 percent in 2010.

The increases are designed to cover the increasing costs of wholesale power purchased by the town, as well as build up Oak Creek’s reserves to cover future maintenance and equipment replacement for its electric utility, Cutsor said.

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The town last raised its electric rates in 2001, and increases in the cost of purchasing power since then have not been passed on to the consumer, Trustee Chuck Wisecup said.

The Town Board “greened” its electric utility Thursday, unanimously voting to purchase 2 percent of the town’s power from MEAN’s renewable wind resources. The board also stated its commitment to purchasing 10 percent of its power portfolio from renewable sources by 2020.

The alcohol agenda

The Town Board renewed the Elk’s Tavern’s liquor license by a narrow 4-3 vote. Trustees Wisecup, Josh Voorhis and David Fisher voted against renewing the liquor license after Fisher questioned owner Shirley Montieth about how many times the Oak Creek Police Department or the Routt County Sheriff’s Office have been called to “alcohol-related disturbances” in or near her establishment during the past year.

“Obviously, there are substantial problems in the community relating to alcohol, and I don’t feel at this time I can support your renewal,” Fisher said.

The board also unanimously passed an ordinance reinstating liquor server training requirements in Oak Creek.

In October, the board ordered the drafting of an ordinance requiring alcohol servers at the town’s bars and restaurants to complete the Training for Intervention Procedures course and be recertified every three years. A TIPS requirement was repealed by a former Town Board in 2006.

Oak Creek proposed utility increases

Electric

Current: $0.085 per kilowatt-hour, with an $8 minimum monthly bill

Proposed: Replace minimum monthly bill with a $6.50 customer charge to cover overhead; increase rates 10 percent in January 2009 to $0.0935 per kilowatt-hour, and another 5.7 percent in January 2010 to $0.0988 per kilowatt-hour

Water:

Current: $27 a month for residential customers

Proposed: $41 a month for residential customers; $20 reduced rate for senior citizens; $61 for general businesses and restaurants without bars; $92 for grocery stores, motels, day cares and restaurant with bars; $114 for the community center; $1,215 for the Soroco school campus; $137 for the laundromat/car wash; $760 for the cemetery; and $82 for out-of-town residences

Sewer:

Current: $28 a month for residential customers

Proposed: $42 a month for residential customers; $87 for restaurants, bars, grocery stores and food service establishments; $57 for general businesses; $84 for motels, day cares and the community center; $113 for laundromat/car wash; $450 for the Soroco school campus; and $84 for out-of-town residences

Trash (residential customers only)

Current: $17 a month

Proposed: $20 a month

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