City hears from public over proposed rate adjustment

By: 
Alastair Baker
News Editor

The proposal to adjust the water/sewer rates for seasonal housing and vacant lots inside Red Lodge City limits met with mixed reactions at last week’s council meeting.

As far back as July the council had suggested a charge to help cover financing for future projects in town. At the time Mayor Mike Schoenike said, “regardless of whether or not you are in your home or even regardless of whether or not you have a home on that lot, the fact that the infrastructure of water and sewer is available to that lot has a positive impact on the value of that property.” This was touted even towards “the lots that are undeveloped.”

The City suggested billing seasonal housing $23.91 per month that would include $5.63 for water, $16.28 for sewer and the $2 curb stop fee.

For vacant lots with a curb stop the Resolution proposes charging $19.13 per month.

At the public hearing, concerns were raised that such actions would be detrimental to lot sales and affect any development.

Marcella Manuel of Coldwell Banker, stated, “the proposed fee structure is excessive for vacant lots. Nearly 80 percent of what taxes are on many lots on the golf course.”

She believed this would make “lots less attractive and drive down the market value and also effect residential development and force people to build outside city limits where they don’t have those services.”
“It’s pretty affordable to drill a well, we have ready access to water. I prefer to fill in the city rather than have more subdivisions,” she said.

Several pointed out that the Spires development put in its infrastructure, and paid $150,000 for future maintenance of those lots.

Cathy Robson had no problem with the rates being applied to undeveloped lots and felt homeowners here are “carrying” the seasonal occupants.

Golf course resident Lorna Gray supported a curb fee for vacant lots stating it was “unfair” for her “to shoulder the burden.”
Beth Hutchinson said while she “supported the general thrust of having more money to support the water facilities”, she felt it could be lower.
“I have a place on the other side of the state and I pay $32.79 a month. It is not congenial with my budget but I do have to pay. I do appreciate the fact that small towns in this state are up against the wall financially and money must come from somewhere,” she said.
Dave Westwood was concerned that it “will impact people over time and money to help build our city.”

“We need to view them as partner investors in town,” he said.
Diane Dimich reiterated her concerns that that part of the Community Development Director’s salary along with the City Attorney’s salary comes from the Water and Sewer Rates.
“I look at this as a slush fund,” she said believing the money is not going to its intended purpose, back into projects.

The Council is still collecting information on this proposal and has contacted all homeowners. There will be a public meeting at the Red Lodge City Council, Oct. 24.

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Upcoming Events

  • Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.
  • Thursday, June 20, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Clarks Fork Group meets at St. Joseph’s Catholic Hall, north end of Montana Avenue, Thursday at 7 p.m.
  • Friday, June 21, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Rock Creek Group meets Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Wednesdays and Fridays at 7 p.m. at Calvary Church, 9 N Villard, Red Lodge.
  • Monday, June 24, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Joliet Group meets at the Community Center Monday at 7 p.m.
  • Tuesday, June 25, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Now Group meets at the Bridger United Methodist Church, 222 W. Broadway (west entrance of church) Tuesday at 7 p.m.
  • Thursday, June 27, 2019 - 7:00pm
    Meets every Thursday, 7 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, 122 S. Hauser. It is open to all. 425- 1755.

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11 N. Broadway, Red Lodge, MT 59068

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