An ordinance was passed during the Board of Aldermen meeting Monday that established higher water and sewer rates in the area. The monthly rates for residential water within the city limits was set at $6 for a base rate and $5.39/1,000 gallons, up from the old rate of $3.88/1,000 gallons. Rates for residential properties outside city limits was set for a base of $12 and $6.78/1,000 gallon, up 39 percent from the previous year’s cost. Rates for commercial use in and out of the city were also raised, as well as sewer rates for all parties. This change will be reflected with the July utility billing.

During the public hearing held before the meeting the only citizen attendee, John Hambacker, raised questions to the aldermen regarding the rate change, if and how it would affect Heartland Metal and local hotels, percentage increases for people outside the city and the use of city water by outside entities like MoDOT.

Hambacker explained that during an encounter with a MoDOT employee they had explained that the only time MoDOT filled up on city water was during the removal of salt from bridges to help ease erosion. The next week Hambacker observed a MoDOT tanker truck at the local fire station filling up a large water container. When asked where the salt was that they were flushing, the employee had no comment, Hambacker stated.

“They are using water not for just flushing off bridges, but also other things and we don’t know what that volume is…why are they using our water if they don’t pay for our water?” said Hambacker. “We are not making enough from water and sewer at this point, obviously, so we need to be addressing these issues.”

Hambacker suggested a ledger be kept of water consumption used by MoDOT, as well as when hydrants are flushed and other various water needs in the city that are not currently monitored. City Administrator Ray Walden agreed that the monitoring of water consumption in certain areas was an issue and would ultimately need to be a board decision to take action.

Alderman Kenny Nash thanked Hambacker for bringing his questions and concerns to the board.

Walden showed a newly purchased hose meter to the board during the public hearing; a meter that shows volume of water consumed for specific projects like a pool or garden. Individuals would pay a deposit to check out the meter for a period of time, would then return it after use to be read and then a sewer deduction based on what was used would be given to the individual.

The aldermen also approved an agreement between the City of Salem and the Salem R-80 Board of Education to establish a school resource officer program. This position would be filled by a city police officer that would work with the school eight months of the year and four months for the city.

Bill 3394 was also passed by the board pertaining to electric rates.