The Manchester Board of Aldermen unanimously passed a resolution Monday night urging the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District to postpone an upcoming rate hike and head back to the drawing board.
Alderman Marilyn Ottenad tells Patch the resolution in response to a letter by the St. Louis County Municipal League detailing how the use of the money from the rate hike could waste billions of dollars.
"It was something that was recommended by the St. Louis County Municipal League that all St. Louis County cities do," explained Manchester City Clerk Ruth Baker.
The resolution states that "MSD, the EPA and others have negotiated a draft Consent Decree that would, nonetheless, require MSD to dramatically raise rates by three or four times over more than two decades to generate an additional $4.6 billion (2011 dollars) largely to reduce relatively harmless overflows."
Monday's resolution pushes MSD, the EPA and all other involved parties to reevaluate the "doube-digit" rate hike and how the money will be spent. The city is trying to get MSD to limit its rate increase by coming up with a new plan that will offer a lower rate increase over a longer period of time.
According to the municipal league, it supports MSD's mission and rate increases when they are in the best interest of the residents. However, the league's letter states the sewer rate hike funds will go toward overflows that occur in "isolated areas during localized heavy rainfall." Since all residents will pay for issues that do not affect all residents, the league said this rate hike does not meet that goal.
"They're going to get all this money from residents, but the water's not going to be any cleaner. So it's a waste," Ottenad tells Patch.
By passing the resolution, aldermen are telling MSD they want the rate increase postponed and more discretion exercised in recreating the plan to make sure the money is being used in a more effective manner. They would support a "more reasonable" rate increase spread out over more time.
City leaders also want the federal government to fund 75 percent of any future mandates, as stated in the resolution. Ottenad said this rate hike is due to an unfunded federal mandate placed upon MSD.
The resolution will now be forwarded to the municipal league. Other cities are believed to be passing the same resolutions.
For more details on the resolution or to read the letter from the St. Louis County Municipal League, see the above agenda and supporting documents included in the PDF portion of this article.
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