|Gering utilities rise slightly: City points to landfill costs|
|October 01, 2015 Jerry Purvis|
At their Monday meeting, members of the Gering City Council unanimously approved ordinances to raise utility rates to the residents of Gering, primarily caused by increased costs to the city.
Use of the city landfill will increase to $15.50 per month for residential customers, up from $15 last year. Darrell Vance, Gering’s director of environmental science, said the increase is to help cover costs for the new landfill, which both Gering and Scottsbluff are pursuing. The city will also purchase a new garbage truck and a new compactor.
“Residents won’t notice much of an increase,” Vance said, “but it’s needed as we search for a location for a new landfill.”
The current landfill is expected to be full by about 2023, when a new site would need to be in operation. Until then, city staff is doing all it can, such as compacting and recycling, to extend the life of the landfill. This will give both cities more time to find the best possible location for a new one.
Electrical rates also increased by about six percent across the board for both residential and commercial customers. Ron Doggett, Gering’s utilities supervisor, said the cost of electricity to the city increased about five percent over last year, so the increase is what he called “a wash.”
“A lot of that increase to us, and ultimately to the customer, is caused by stricter emission standards imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency,” Doggett said. “It makes things tough, but there’s not much else we can do.”
Under the new ordinance, the new minimum electric bill for residential is $29.10 and $33.80 for commercial in summer and $29.70 in winter.
There was a two dollar increase in wastewater, from $22.05 to $24.05 per month. Water rates will remain the same as last year. “Overall, people will probably see an increase of about $11.63 per month,” said Gering City Treasurer John Mejia.
“Percentage wise, that’s about a 5.68 percent increase. All of this is driven by increasing costs to the city to provide the service.”
In other action, council members approved a series of legal steps to clear the way for Ben and Kerri Dishman, owners of Fresh Foods, to purchase their building from G-Town, the developer of record. “Basically the Dishmans are taking over the position G-Town was in,” council member Larry Gibbs said. “They’ll assume all the obligations and debts involved. They’ll still be involved with the Gering Leasing Corporation and Valley Bank and Trust.”
With the purchase, G-Town capital will be freed up to finance other projects, such as the upcoming hotel in downtown Gering. “We’re excited to purchase the building, as we’d rather own than lease,” Ben Dishman said. “This gives us a competitive advantage in keeping all the money in Gering. Business is doing well, so we can keep growing.”