Chelsea Forum talks about utility rates, city commissions, and growth

By Seth Kinker,

The Chelsea Forum met on May 18, topics this month included discussions on the impending utility rate increases and results of some recently formed city commissions.

Discussion centered on the utility rate increase recommendations from the city staff that include increasing the Ready to Serve Charge for electric by $1 dollar a month (also recommended by MPPA), increasing commercial and industrial rates by 4% beginning Jul. 1, and increasing residential rates by 2% beginning Jul. 1 with no proposal increased recommended for water or wastewater.

Council member Rick Catherman, who was in attendance at the forum, met with city staff to learn more about the rate increases. He reported that the current fixed rate doesn’t meet the fixed costs, the majority of those being salaries and wages, and the city is trying to keep the rates in line with the rising commercial and industrial rates.

Catherman also brought up the brief history the city council that was given in April pertaining to rate rises, in 2006, rates were raised 81 percent. Over the course of the last 12-13 years, rate raises have been incremental. In 2009 and 2011 fixed electric rates were actually reduced.

Transparency was a repeated theme with information often posted on the city website with minutes and packets from prior meetings.

Finally, the forum talked about the housing commission and sustainability advisory commission, both commissioned by the city for one-year terms.

Vince Elie, a chair on the housing commission and now co-moderator of the forum, relayed that the information had been presented to council with suggestions on what they needed to do, with the big item being a comprehensive data base of housing in the city.

The sustainability commission is still compiling information into a presentation, with plans to present it to city council in June that touch on alternative energy, green buildings, recycling waste management, transportation and mobility, and water resources.

The Chelsea Forum meets the third Saturday of every month at 9 a.m. at the Chelsea Senior Center.

Seth Kinker

Reporter/Digital Media for The Sun Times News

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