City of Harrison, Ark. approves 5% increase to water rates in 2022

Published: Dec. 28, 2021 at 4:58 PM CST
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - The Harrison City Council approved adding 5% to city water rates.

The decision includes the increase already passed by the council in November from the Carroll-Boone Water Association of $0.15 per 1,000 gallons. Harrison Chief Financial Officer Luke Feighert said the increase will amount to an additional $2.40 on the minimum water bill.

“We’re trying to keep that as low as possible,” said Feighert.

The increase is due to fees the water department assumes when customers pay their bills via credit card and also the consumer price index (CPI) for water rates increasing 3.03%. Consumer price index measures the average change in prices for a certain good, year-to-year.

“The water and sewer rates we look at every year, we take a look at them and try to adjust based on the cost of living and use that percentage to go up every year,” said Feighert. ”We made the decision a few years ago to not charge credit card fees to the customers. The state of Arkansas says you have to add that into your fees in some way.”

According to Feighert, the water department spends about 1% of its annual revenue towards credit card fees and have been operating in the red for several years. A third of customers pay their bills with a credit card.

“That number is only going to rise,” he said.

While a 5% increase isn’t something to fuss about for residential customers, the jump for businesses like Sassy Wags can be pretty rough.

“We have about 3,000 clients and we have about 20-25 dogs a day and we have to use water in the baths,” said Sassy Wags owner Jordan Schaeffer. “It’s quite a lot of water, it’s easily the resource we use the most for business.”

While Schaeffer isn’t a fan of the increase, she understands with the prices of her services going up after the first of the year.

”You know everything going on in the world, everything is just going up as it is, the clipper blades, the sharpening,” she said. “I don’t want it to go up for sure, I own my own business, so I try to save as much money as I can.”

The city believes customers won’t see as big of a difference come 2023 when the city will bid for a new solid waste contract. In Harrison, water, sewer, and trash services are all paid together. In the December meeting, the city council leaders also voted to not extend the current contract with Orion Solid Waste.

The solid waste contract will be up for bid in 2023.

”We are hopeful when the actual bid goes out in 2023, we have had a couple of people mention that it is quite possible that our trash rates will go even lower, and so we’re very excited about that,” said Feighert.

Harrison council members have discussed the possibility that by 2025 the city will be required to do a rate study on their water rates, which will look at cost and revenue over several years and determine what the rates should be.

The water department says you will be able to see the increased rate on your first bill towards 2022 water usage.

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