News

Buckley gas rates jumping 30 percent

By Shawn Skager

The Courier-Herald

Buckley City Council members voted 5-1 to approve a 30 percent natural gas rate hike at their Nov. 8 regularly scheduled meeting.

The hike will increase the natural gas rate from 81 cents per therm to $1.05 for the city's utility users.

Councilperson Beverly Schneider, the lone dissenter on the vote, argued the 30 percent increase was too much.

“I personally felt that the 30 percent increase was unnecessary,” she said. “Twenty-two percent keeps us solvent. With a colder winter coming I don't think the 30 percent increase is necessary.”

The rest of the council disagreed.

Citing the need to replenish the city's reserve fund, Councilwoman Pat Johnson urged the increase be adopted.

“By raising it 30 percent we can rebuild it now,” she said.

Johnson said without the increase, the fund would be bankrupt by January and February.

“If we take a little bite now, it won't hurt as bad as in the future,” she continued. She said the city can always roll the price back, but no one wants to go back and ask for another increase every couple of months.

Councilperson Ron Weigelt agreed with the increase.

“Nobody wants to do it,” he said. “Nobody wants to raise costs. My neighbors don't want to pay it, I don't want to pay it. But it's better to raise them now, rather than every couple of months.”

The increase will go into effect Dec. 1.

In other business, the council voted 6-0 to purchase a surveillance camera for the skate park, which would allow Buckley police to monitor the park and let pictures from the camera be posted on the city's Web site.

A second camera will be installed and provide pictures of Mount Rainier for the Web site.

The cost of installation, cameras, software, training and other hardware will total $7,889.

The council also voted 6-0 to accept a bid from Asphalt Patch Systems to repair several of the city's sidewalks.

According to City Administrator Dave Schmidt, the city graded the condition of the city's sidewalks, from A to C, with A being those most in need of repair. The city will dole out $32,445 to repair the Schedule A sidewalks.

The city also rescheduled several meetings and public hearings to work around the busy holiday schedule.

Monday, the city will host a public hearing on the comprehensive plan and proposed property tax levy. The public hearing will begin at 6 p.m., followed by a council workshop to study the comprehensive plan.

Tuesday, the city will host a public hearing at 6 p.m. regarding the new budget, followed by the regularly scheduled City Council meeting.

Shawn Skager can be reached at sskager@courierherald.com.

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