18 May 2024

Stillwater residents may soon see their electric utility and stormwater drainage bills rise starting in January. At a recent city council meeting, experts presented recommendations for rate increases due to financial challenges.

Electric utility rates are proposed to go up by $1.89 per month, while stormwater drainage rates would increase by $1.46 per month. These proposals have been suggested before but have not been acted upon.

Lisa Vedder of LM Vedder Consulting emphasized the need for these increases, citing rising costs, stagnant revenues, and supply chain issues as contributing factors. Eliminating the declining bill rate structure would mean consistent bills throughout the year for residents.

Vedder’s study indicated a potential five-year deficit of $22 million if no action is taken, but the mayor clarified that the city is not heading into massive debt. The council has set aside $25 million in unrestricted funds for citizen-related expenses, separate from emergency funds.

Zach Henson, watershed quality manager, proposed a stormwater drainage rate increase to address runoff challenges caused by urban expansion. The proposed monthly rate of $2.46, up from $1, would still be the lowest in the region.

Residents not living in flood-prone areas are also affected by drainage issues, leading to water accumulation and longer emergency response times. A town hall meeting on October 10 will allow residents to ask questions about the electric utility rate increase.

Vice Mayor Amy Dzialowski stressed the need for refining the stormwater drainage rate proposal and urged the development of a solid framework for utilizing available funds. The fate of these proposals remains uncertain, but they reflect Stillwater’s efforts to balance essential services with financial realities.