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December 10, 2017

Water Rate Hike Talk


The Luther Town Board of Trustees will “consider, discuss and possibly act” to raise water (and sewer) fees at Tuesday night’s Luther Public Works Authority meeting.

Vice Mayor Jason Roach said the proposal would raise water rates about $4 a month for the first 2,000 gallons of water used for residential users. Commercial users, such as the school system, will have more of an increase. Roach, the board liaison to LPWA, said the rate hike is needed to work on serious infrastructure issues for water and sewer. In addition, the rate increase will improve the Town’s ability to qualify for another REAP grant from the Oklahoma Water Resources Board, by showing the Town is a good steward of its resources to invest in its water system; and encourages conservation.

The only standpipe in the Town of Luther. Capacity: 150,000 gallons.

Picture from Luther Fire. Volunteers check pressure at hydrants throughout the Town.

“The experts have told us that we have one of the cheapest water rates in the state,” said Mayor Jenni White explaining the experts are with OWRB as well as consultants and engineers who have studied the issue in Luther. She said the last Luther Board of Trustees contracted for a $6,000 study, titled, Town of Luther Hydraulic Analysis/Master Plan Project NO: LUT-14-01, Engineering Report, that was published in September 2016. (Incidentally, she said the study had not been paid for and the current board will make good on the obligation).

That study and plan proposes a multi-phase plan to reflect anticipated growth, replace pipes to increase pressure and water safety, add fire hydrants and even extend water outside of the current water borders from 178th Street to Highway 66 from the south to the north, and west to east from about Cherry Street (by Booker T Washington Park) to Dogwood (by Wildhorse Park).

“We are an old town, and we can’t expect to grow if we can’t maintain what we have or plan for growth,” she said. “Unfortunately this work should have been done 20 years ago, and so now we just have to rip off the band-aid to work toward improvements as quickly as possible.” According to data from Communities Unlimited, the average bill of a Luther water customer is $37.03 for 5001 gallons per month. Commercial customers pay an average $569 a month for using 55,000 gallons.

A major water main break last November shut down water to the Town for about 24 hours.

 

Talk about raising a bill gets people talking. And questions are arising for the more than 250 customers on the system. Will our water pressure improve? How much will my bill go up? Will this improve my house insurance if it helps the fire department with water access (the ISO rating)? Why are they doing this? My bill is already too high, how can I afford more? How do we know they’ll actually improve our water if these rates go up?

Just a few months ago, a water main break shut down service to all customers, including residents, commercial and business users, for nearly 24 hours. And intermittent outages happen frequently, according to customers who also complain of low water pressure.

Data on Luther water usage from Communities unlimited.

As the Tuesday night meeting will likely be long, those with questions, comments or concerns should contact a Trustee before the meeting. If you want to visit with a Town Board member; check out the Town’s new website and find email addresses for each Trustee. 

The meeting begins with the Town Board at 7pm; and the LPWA will be after the town board meeting. The full agenda must be posted on Monday, 24 hours before the meeting. Citizen’s comments are allowed at the meeting by signing up. The meeting is held at the Community Center at 18120 East Hogback Road. The Luther Register will broadcast the meeting on FB Live. Please note, we are not allowing comments on the LIVE Broadcast, for now, because of recent inappropriate comments.

 

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