When the monthly “water bill” came out from the Town of Eads on Tuesday people were surprised, and yes initially angry, to learn that inflation continues to raise its ugly head. This time in the form of a 3% hike in Water and Sewer charges from the Town of Eads.
The Independent received a number of phone calls expressing concerns about the increase with most of the comments centered around the fact that nothing had been communicated by the Town as to why the hike had to take place during a time when people are financially reeling from the year-long affects of the COVID-19 pandemic and, even more damaging in this area, by a severe drought that doesn’t seem to show any indication it is ready to go away.
In addition, a couple of residents wondered if there was a correlation between the failed 3% sales tax proposal that was on last fall’s ballot and this current raise in utility costs. It was also pointed out that the Town employees also received a 3% cost of living increase at the December 2020 meeting.
Eads Mayor Joe Shields told the Independent in an interview on Friday that, “First of all, the rate hike had nothing to do with the swimming pool project. The cost-of-living increase approved by the board at the end of the year is common practice and important in order to maintain quality employment.”
Shields went on to say, “The 3% increase in the utility sector is due mostly to the fact that the Town of Eads recently received a large grant to address the emergency repairs of purchasing and installing a new sewer liner as the old one was leaking into the ground. The grant required matching some amount of funds whereby the Town would show good faith for the funds received. The City Council determined a rate hike in Water and Sewer, but not Trash, was needed to meet the grant requirements.”
According to Town Clerk Robin Fox, “The 3% increase equates to a total raise in utilities of $1.87 per month, or $22.44 per year for in-town residents and a $2.61 raise per month, or $31.32 per year for out-of-town residents.” For the In-Resident’s accounts the Water bill went from $42.72 in 2020 to $44.00 starting this month; and, in relationship, the Sewer bill went from $19.25 in 2020 to $19.86 today.
She continued, “The City Council discussed raising the rates and settled on meeting this grant obligation through the 3% rate hike. They, however, refrained from raising the Trash charge as it was already elevated quite a bit two years ago.”
Although the “water bills” with the rate hikes have already come out for the January charges, the Council will make their formal vote on the rate hike action item at their February 9 meeting.
Another topic on the action item list for the upcoming meeting is to approve the contract renewal with AirMedCare, the company that provides coverage for Flight for Life helicopter trips for any resident within the City of Eads. That cost is nearly $3,000 per year covered by the Town of Eads but can represent potentially a huge savings to residents who find themselves in a health crisis. This coverage is free for in-city limits citizens and covers incidents anywhere in Kiowa County. If a resident wants more far-reaching coverage anywhere in the United States, they need to sign up with AirMedCare for $45.
For those who live outside of the city limits of Eads there is a $65 annual fee to be a member of AirMedCare. The regular cost is $85 per year, but Southeast Colorado Power Association, as a local utility, is able to cover the excess. The $65 membership fee will cover the entire household anywhere in the country.
To enroll in the service, go online to www.amcnrep.com/bob-walter. However, you must have the proper code to get the discount online. You can also call Bob Walter at 720-595-6463 or mail an application off the website to Bob Walter, 808 Fairhurst St., Sterling, CO 80751.
Yes, we all feel inflation creeping into every aspect of our lives these days and now our Water and Sewer bills are no exception. However, it seems the Town of Eads is doing what they can to maintain the utility in an affordable manner. And, thankfully, they continue to think out of the box in providing the AirMedCare service that has literally been a lifesaver in the past for some of our citizens.