>Sewer, water rates rising

   For the upcoming fiscal year, the city of Madras anticipates doing more with less.
   The total budget for 2012-13 is estimated at $17,941,930 -- down nearly 8 percent from the current year's budget of $19,497,591.
   "I would describe this budget as challenging in certain areas, while being filled with community improvements," said Gus Burril, city administrator since December.
   To meet the city's debt payment for expansion at the North and South Wastewater Treatment Plants, sewer rates in the city will increase 16 percent, and water rates, 4.5 percent,
   "The biggest challenge is in the area of growing debt obligation assistance to the System Development Charge Wastewater Improvement Fund," said Burril.
   "Due to the multi-year trend of declining economic development, the wastewater operations fund will have to increase assistance for annual debt payments to the SDC Wastewater Improvement Fund over the next three years," he explained.
   If the budget is approved and adopted at the June 26 budget hearing, the city's sewer rate will increase from $38.80 per month, per residence, to $45, beginning in October. For 2013-14, it would increase to $52.20, and for 2014-15, to $58.50.
   The city currently has 31 full-time employees -- down one from earlier in the year. Twelve of those employees are with the Madras Police Department, which reopened an investigator position this year with grant funding.
   According to Kathy Snyder, city finance director, 95 percent of property tax revenue in the city supports the police department, and 5 percent, the parks fund.
   However, the total police department budget is $1,903,888, or 75.4 percent of the total general fund budget for 2012-13.
   During the next budget cycle, with significant grant assistance, the city will complete the next segment of the city's trail system -- from Willow Creek Canyon to a viewpoint near the Madras M on the hill west of town to the Madras Bike and Skate Park (see story this page).
   The city is also in the process of constructing a new city hall-police station with a plaza featuring veterans' memorials in the former Friendship Park area. The $4.8 million project is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and is adequately funded in the budget.
   Paving projects included in the 2012-13 budget include improvements on Second Street, with new pavement between J and M street; an overlay and new pavement on L Street, between Second Street and U.S. Highway 97; connecting E Street pavement near Grizzly Road; an overlay of Third Street, between J and K streets; an overlay of I Street, between Hull Street and South Adams Drive; and an overlay of Bard Lane from Murray Street to Adrian Street.
   The city will conduct its budget hearing and approve a rate schedule at its regularly scheduled June 26 meeting, which begins at 7 p.m.
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