Council discusses city business in Ephrata
New revenue topics included at retreat
Liveability and infrastructure took up a good share of the time at Electric City’s retreat last Friday, the mayor said. Topics discussed included crime, raising sewer rates and a new car fee, among others.
The need to do something about crime problems, particularly drug activity, was one of the council’s focal points during its six-hour discussion in Ephrata where council members gathered to take a look forward.
The council’s “crime watch” or “block watch,” as it’s being called, got a boost from council members who seemingly are getting tired of drug activity and the crime associated with it. Neighbors looking after neighbors — that’s the idea behind the neighborhood watch program being discussed.
But the nuts and bolts of concern were about the city’s infrastructure.
The city is preparing a letter that will go out in June announcing the need to increase its sewer rates.
“The city has about 12 miles of sewer lines and the lines are getting old,” Mayor Jerry Sands explained. “We have re-lined about 3,500 feet so far, but that leaves a lot left to do.”
To line all city sewer lines would cost about $2 million.
“We aren’t looking at doing them all at once,” Sands noted.
However, an increase in sewer rates would allow the city to slowly make the improvements necessary so the problem with aging pipes won’t get to crisis proportions, he said.
Before the city could raise sewer rates, officials would have to hold a public hearing on the matter.
Another new revenue source could be a $20 car license tab fee exercised by the city.
“When license tab fees were lowered by initiative, it took about $100,000 worth of revenue from the city,” Sands said. “In order to keep our streets up, we need more revenue base.”
The city plans to start the process of adding the car fee to its revenue base in June.
Provisions in state law allow cities or counties to add a $20 fee to license tabs.
“If we don’t do it, the county will,” Sands said. “This way the money stays here and improves our streets.”
Both Sands and City Clerk Jacki Perman stated that the retreat was “excellent.”
Among the topics discussed were:
• Protect people and property.
• Encourage community involvement.
• Renew infrastructures.
• Help bring local communities together.
• Increase winter tourism.
• Deal with the community drug problem.
• Continue the cleanup of the community.
“These were all talking points and help point us to the future,” Sands said.
No decisions were made at the retreat, which was led by city attorney Katheriine Kennison.
The city’s insurance broker, Canfield & Associates, also delivered a work session on council responsibilities and roles and the mayor’s responsibilities.