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This is blog for brandoninfo.com, a website dedicated to news in the Brandon community. Contributers include the staff of the Argus Leader, the Brandon Valley Challenger and the website itself.

Water/sewer rates

December 5th, 2013 by Alica

Brandon’s water and sewer rates are taking a hike starting the first of the year. City leaders say the hikes are necessary to have infrastructure in place for future growth.

How do you feel? Do you think the hikes are justified, or too much at once? What will you do, if anything, to cut your water or sewer use to keep your personal costs down?

Posted in Uncategorized, City business |

46 Responses

  1. anon Says:

    Too much at once.

  2. @16 Says:

    I’m curious where this facility would be located.
    The one thing I’m interested in is the “drilling three new wells”. What does this mean..? Are these the holding ponds on the west side of town that STINK UP 1/3 OF BRANDON!?!?!
    Boy would I love 3 more of those being on the northwest part of town. .

  3. Tom Says:

    Too much at once…absolutely. City leaders should consider these kinds of impacts on the utility infrastructure when they are considering granting developers requests to build new housing developments. Perhaps developers should be responsible for the impact on utility infrastructure…and not those who already live here. Maybe growth is not the best thing for a community, especially a community that is already suffering from the growth in the recent past with respect to the need to build new educational facilities. Money does not grow on trees!

  4. @16 Says:

    Well put, Tom.

    Lets see, just in 2013. The city of Brandon has tried to push a new park ($50+ per/mo), new school ($20+month), and now improvements to utilities ($25 per/mo) (100ish per/mo). In….One….YEAR!

    Are you kidding me!? Apparently I need to be a council member and make the big bucks!

  5. Anon Says:

    I would like more information on the water/sewer project. Why does the article only talk about Phase 1 and not Phase 2? What is Phase 2? Where are the upgrades going to be located? New holding ponds? Where? It sure would be nice to know about these things to see if the citizens are comfortable with it before city council members vote on it. The minutes of the council meeting are pathetic-little to no information. I see the council already voted yes (1st reading) to rate increase with the second reading 12/16. Not much time for citizens to gather information. Why is so little information shared? I am not happy that this issue was kept quiet until after the ball field vote-guess the city didn’t want the residents to know about this $$$ increase as well. How about a mailing detailing the water/sewer issue with the monthly water/sewer bill? I sure wish there was more foresight and planning by the city leaders. This is a big issue that they should have been saving $$$ for. I believe in having the majority of cash on hand and then building versus building and then paying (city could learn from the way the school district manages tax $$$).
    #4. The school and city are two entirely different entities. The city has nothing to do with the schools and the schools have nothing to do with the new park or utility improvements.

  6. Anon Says:

    Forgot one question. In Sioux Falls developers/homeowners pay a per house hook-up fee to utilities. Does Brandon? They should consider charging. New homeowners should pay for new infrastructure not current homeowners.

  7. @16 Says:

    @5

    I understand they are two different “groups” that are tied to the projects. But, they should be aware of the cost of other potential projects in the pipeline.
    With that, exclude he school, why would you propose a new park that would cost X amount of dollars, then turn around no more than 6 months later and say “Guess what, price hike on utilities!”

    I don’t get why Brandon has been in “NOW” mode. Want to increase taxes, do so over the course of several years. Not just..we’re fine…we’re fine..we’re fine. BOOM!

  8. Anon Says:

    #7 Agree 100% with everything you said.

  9. John Says:

    Well here we go again. Brandon needs more tax money so lets hit up the residents again.
    Yes it is important to have a good sewer system and water service, but at what cost? It seems that this city council is willing to let an outside consultant set forth city policy without having the leaders that we have elected offer their own plan.
    Yes I believe that we will be paying more in the future but the city council should offer their plan.
    A 87% increase in tax is unheard of and totally unacceptable. Not only will this increase hurt the homeowners it will also hurt new commercial development, causing the city to loose more tax revenue.
    Please rethink your plan City of Brandon. Change will be coming soon. Elections will soon be here.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Ugh…..weren’t water/sewer rates already increased once about 2 years ago for this same project. @16 get the school project is &28 per year per $100000 in valuation.

  11. Another anonymous.... Says:

    87% increase in one year…..keep choking these sort of increases down and moving back to the east side of Sioux Falls is becoming more attractive.

    Hopefully we’re not the minority where a $40 plus increase in one year ( not including everything else they’ve proposed lately) isn’t exactly “chump change”!!

    Funny the city would have a sewer issue tonight….sounds like good timing for someone!

  12. a Says:

    87% is absolutely ridiculous! If the current ponds were built when the population was 2500, what was the population that the facilities were designed to handle?? (guessing much less than 9000) I saw that the new facilities would be designed to handle up to 16000…..good for future planning, but why hasn’t there been a gradual increase over the last few years if (I’m guessing) the city has known that the current facilities are over worked? The school district uses population triggers to start looking into if they need new buildings/additions. Why isn’t the city as responsible?

  13. solo Says:

    Sure would have been nice to know about the sewer breakdown last night. Why doesn’t the city have a face book site? They could quickly and easily communicate with citizens with one quick post. Other towns use face book to send out information-get with it Brandon. I surely hope there weren’t any big issues with sewer back-ups in homes-gross.

    Regarding the 87% price increase-another poor judgement call on behalf of the city leaders. Way to much to fast. I hope they find another way to fund the upgrades. Where are the new upgrades going to be put? More information would be nice.

  14. janet brown Says:

    My pay hasn’t gone up in 3 years. The City of Brandon wants to take, take, take. I agree with others, if people want to move here they should pay for the improvements. I have rusty water which comes into my house. How about the City take care of that? The City is asking for way too much. All the utilities have gone up, insurance has gone up, taxes have gone up. When will it stop? The only place left for me to cut back is on food.

  15. janet brown Says:

    My pay hasn’t gone up in 3 years. The City of Brandon wants to take, take, take. I agree with others, if people want to move here they should pay for the improvements. I have rusty water which comes into my house. How about the City take care of that? The City is asking for way too much. All the utilities have gone up, insurance has gone up, taxes have gone up. When will it stop? The only place left for me to cut back is on food.

  16. Alica Says:

    Here is an update on the increases in water and sewer rates. The council passed a resolution Dec. 2 where they set the rates. Since it is a resolution, it’s a done deal and doesn’t have to go through a second reading like an ordinance would. An ordinance is a change in the law. Setting rates isn’t a law change, so it doesn’t need an ordinance, just a resolution.

    The council didn’t raise the sewer rates as much as they had talked about earlier, so that might ease the pain a little.

    Here are the new rates, compared to the old rates. See the Dec. 11 issue of the Brandon Valley Challenger to learn more.

    Residential water rates in Brandon starting Jan. 1

    Water
    $7.43 monthly plus $4.35 per 1,000 gallons used or portion thereof (currently $7.21 and $4.22)

    Sewer
    $10 monthly plus $8 per 1,000 gallons used or portion thereof (currently $7.21 and $4.22)

  17. Alica Says:

    To #2: The three new wells would provide Brandon with more sources of drinking water. Consider them “incoming” water sources.

    The ponds, on the other hand, are filled with all the water and other materials that go down your drains (from flushing, dishwater, laundry water, etc.). Consider that “outgoing.”

    Two totally separate things, although they both have to do with water.

  18. Anon Says:

    Thank you Alica for the information and clarification on ordinances versus resolutions. Good to know.

    It is unfortunate more information wasn’t presented to the public before the council voted. I am sure there would have been a lot of negative opinions from the public and the elected council wanted to avoid the phone calls and emails.

    I reviewed my water/sewer bill from last month and using the numbers above here is my breakdown:

    Water will increase $1.34 (8,600 gallons used)
    Sewer will increase $16.78 (3,700 gallons used)
    Total increase: $18.12
    Water increase 3%
    Sewer increase 74%

    Some questons:
    1. Where will the new wells be drilled?
    2. More importantly, where will the new ponds be located?
    3. What is Phase 2?
    4. Any additional costs after the initial work?

  19. Another anonymou Says:

    I’d like to know if there ever going to plow the damn roads, or will that be another tax hike?

  20. WJ Says:

    I’m with you #19. In Sioux Falls, they treat and plow their main roads during and after storms. Their snow routes are clear and dry. In Brandon, it appears we wait until it stops snowing and then only plow once to save money. By then the snow is all packed down and turns into ruts and washboards and ice. And hope it doesn’t snow on the weekend because not much plowing will get done. Pretty sad — the council and mayor don’t spend on snow removal but want $12M in ball fields.

  21. anon Says:

    Sioux Falls roads aren’t so hot either.

  22. Alica Says:

    To #12: The city’s sewage lagoons were built originally to service a population of 4,200. About the time Brandon’s population surpassed that number, the city started pumping partially treated sewage to Sioux Falls and continues to do so. And one option is to continue doing that into the future. However, Sioux Falls doubled its rates early this year and has promised an annual rate increase going forward. That is one reason the city is considering building a sewage treatment plant of its own. However, no decisions have been made at this point. In any case, the city will need more money to pay for either a facility of its own or to continue to pump to Sioux Falls, or even to build additional sewage lagoons. Hence, the rate increase.
    To #13: You are correct. The city does not have a Facebook site. I do know that the city website, www.brandonsd.com, has a lot of city information on it.

    To #18: The three new wells are being drilled out by Beaver Valley Church. I don’t know the exact locations. As for the cost after the initial work, there are always maintenance costs. I don’t know if those have been calculated yet.

  23. Anon Says:

    Thanks again for the information Alica.

    I agree with # 13. The City needs a face book site. The City’s website has a lot of information but not current, timely information. A prime example of the need for a face book site is the lift station issue this weekend. Do you know how many people would have been notified with one quick and easy face book post? A heck of a lot people! I personally only knew about it because KELO posted it on their face book site. I knew about it before the nightly news aired the information. There was ZERO mention on the City’s website (still no mention). My bet is that there would have been a much better response from homeowners to decrease their water usage if they KNEW there was a problem. MOST people had no clue.

    FYI- The minutes from the last council meeting (12/2) are still not posted on the City website. Of course, the minutes are really not all that informative to begin with-very lacking on the details. Example from the 11/18/13 minutes:

    “ORDINANCE #508
    Alderman Brooks moved Alderwoman Hansen seconded to give first reading to Ordinance #508. TITLE: AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRANDON, SOUTH DAKOTA REVISING 1-3-5. A roll call vote showed Brooks, Bruning, Fish, Hansen and Hausman aye. Motion carried.”

    Exactly what is the ordinance? What was changed and why the change? How are citizens supposed to know what this is all about? Lack of details.

    Good information on where the wells will be. Where will the ponds be? By the current ponds? I think this is information residents should know.

    Brandon has not had a population of 4,200 for 10+ years. The leaders should have known this would be an issue and planned for expansion. They should have been saving $$$ for the past 10 years and not piled the cost on in “crisis” mode.

  24. Anon Says:

    Alica-

    Following is taken from the 12/5 article of the paper: “If the Brandon City Council approves the rate hikes next month, users will see the first increase on their February bill. A first reading regarding the proposed rates is expected to be on the Council’s Dec. 2 agenda, with the follow-up reading on Dec. 16.
    The water rate increase for 5,000-gallon users will go from $29.75 monthly to $31.33. The sewer rate, also based on 5,000-gallon usage, will jump from $29.75 to $56.75 per month.”

    My question, is there a second reading/vote or not? Your #16 post above says it is a done deal. That is not what it says in the newspaper article. Conflicting information and confusing.

  25. Alica Says:

    As far as I know, the information in the 12/5 Challenger story about there being a second reading is incorrect. I do not know where the author of that story got her information. But when I wrote a story for the 12/11 Challenger on the topic, I asked city leaders specifically about that point and was told it was a resolution, not an ordinance, and therefore did not require a second reading.

    Also, the rate numbers quoted in the 12/5 story are not the final numbers. The council backed off on the sewer increase a bit, so that increase isn’t as high, for example.

    I know of no new ponds being planned. There wasn’t talk of that, that I recall or took note of, at the Dec. 2 City Council meeting.

    I’d like to remind everyone that the Council meetings are open to the public. The meetings also are televised on the local cable channel. The newspaper staffs each meeting as a representative of the public. But it might be interesting to members of the public to occasionally attend a meeting themselves. Just a thought.

  26. dan hanson Says:

    Thanks, Alica, for the #22 post. Some don’t know of our deal with SF.

    And some can’t get over the Aspen Park proposal. Times are not that great. Too much too soon.

  27. Anon Says:

    Thanks Alica for the information. I look forward to reading the upcoming article with the correct information. It is unfortunate that the first article had some misinformation.

    I know that meetings are open to the public but not all of us are available to attend meetings in the evening. I also have watched the meetings on TV but you can only hear certain people talk so it makes it difficult to follow what is happening.

    Thank you for attending the meetings and attempting to keep the public informed.

  28. Driver Says:

    Man, I can’t wait ’til next month to hear the next planned increase. . . .

  29. j Says:

    If you dont want your bill to go up, look for ways to save on water usage. Plain and simple, conserve.

  30. solo Says:

    It isn’t quite that simple and easy #29. The water bills aren’t really going up very much (nominal). It is the SEWER bills that are taking the hit. Everyone is going to see their sewer bill go up. Conserving, while a great idea, won’t have much of an effect on the increase of your sewer bill. The sewer bills for everyone are going to be rising 70%+.

  31. Frank Rizzo Says:

    Your sewer rate is based upon your winter consumption rate of water

  32. Voter Says:

    I recommend the city keep this new money raised from the increased fees in a segregated account. Maybe a segregated account will help with accountability to those of us who feed the system?

  33. Driver Says:

    @29. I guess I’ll be going to the gas station to poop.

    Great tip. Council member I’m assuming. . ?

  34. Alica Says:

    To #32:
    The Water, Sewer and Golf Course are enterprise funds and the money is accounted for separately.

  35. WTH Says:

    I will be putting down astroturf so I no longer have to water my lawn. That will be my saving!

  36. Alica Says:

    To #35:
    Even if you have a real grass lawn, you don’t have to water it.

  37. WTH Says:

    Yea, no reason to water our lawns and make our home(biggest investment most of us make) look nice, why would anyone do that?

  38. Alica Says:

    To #37:
    1. To save money.
    2. To save water.
    3. To avoid having to do the extra mowing.

    These are three reasons I can think of off the top of my head.

  39. WTH Says:

    I suppose since the retention ponds make Brandon smell like sh*&, our homes might as well look like sh*#?

  40. Alica Says:

    It appears you have a low tolerance level when it comes to grass.

  41. anon Says:

    Still NO City Council meeting minutes on the Brandon City website for the 12/2/13 meeting. They had another council meeting the 12/16//13. That makes them two meetings behind in posting the minutes. Pathetic. Unfortunate the public is kept in the dark about what the council is up to-no wonder citizens are upset with them.

  42. anon Says:

    Guess someone read my post from this morning. The council meeting minutes from 12/2 and 12/16 are now on the the Brandon City website. Thanks!

    Great to see people interested in replacing the vacant council seat!

  43. guest Says:

    more proof that Brandon is not attractive to young families.
    http://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/2013/best-towns-south-dakota-young-families/

  44. Anonymous Says:

    Looks more like a data quirk than proof. Brandon: Great schools, 8
    Median Home Value, $166k Monthly Costs, $1344 Median income, $62k Pop Growth 63.1%. All values within range of qualifying communities. Interesting yes but proof Brandon is unattractive, no. Do agree the trend of the thread that city leadership does need to pull its head from its proverbial arse when it comes to budget management.

  45. solo Says:

    Glad to see some qualified people step up and be willing to serve on the council. All five candidates look to be good choices.

  46. Lodge Says:

    The city of brandon has really let me down. First the crazy increase for aspen park.. Then the new school. NOW this. I am all for improving brandon. This being said lets do it in a responsible manor. I think the city officials should all get the boot.

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