Most of the Hannibal Board of Public Works’ special board meeting Wednesday was devoted to discussing the board’s investment in the Main Street sidewalk/street/water infrastructure project (click here for the story). However, the meeting originally was called to debate rolling back the rate Ralls County’s Public Water Supply District No. 1 pays the BPW for the water it sells to its rural customers.
The Sales for Resale, or wholesale, water commodity charge, was set at $3.51 per 1,000 gallons with the rate-structure change the BPW board approved in mid-June, the one that also saw water and sewer rates jump 8 percent for most Hannibal customers. However, whereas the in-town rates took effect July 1, the BPW’s contract with its lone wholesale customer, Ralls County PWSD No. 1, specifies a 90-day waiting period before a new rate takes effect. That means the $3.51 rate approved in June — which is an 18-cent increase from last year’s rate of $3.33 per 1,000 gallons — isn’t official till the middle of this month.
As it turns out, the rate hike won’t take effect at all. The BPW board voted unanimously on Wednesday, minutes after a brief public hearing, to roll back Ralls County’s water rate to last year’s $3.33.
The sole comment at the sparsely attended hearing came from Mike Dobson, Second Ward councilman in Hannibal and chief of the Hannibal Rural Fire Protection District — which, one would think, uses its share of water.
“From (the perspective of) a taxpayer for the city of Hannibal, I can see charging the same for a wholesale customer … but I also see the other side, discounting for the wholesaler,” Dobson said.
General Manager Bob Stevenson suggested that the rate hike had prompted Ralls County to look around for a better deal, which alarmed the BPW.
“We do recognize that there are some competitive pressures between us and our one resale customer, who indicated they have other choices,” Stevenson said during the hearing. “We cannot afford to lose that customer.”
Board member Bud Janes added that with Ralls County sharing the cost for a study of new chemical treatments at Hannibal’s wastewater treatment plant, “we want to treat Ralls County as a partner.”