Evanston looks to raise water rates, increase costs for public records

Evanston Treasurer Trudy Lym looks at documents as she addresses the city council about the 2019-20 fiscal year budget. (HERALD PHOTO/Kayne Pyatt)

EVANSTON — A proposal to increase water rates and the cost to request public records from the City of Evanston were among the topics discussed at last week’s city council work session, held Tuesday, April 9, at City Hall.

City Treasurer Trudy Lym discussed new medical insurance rates and items on the city budget to be presented at the June budget hearing. Lym said the rates for the Blue Cross Blue Shield medical insurance plan will be increased by 4 percent. The city and employees will both see the increase.

The deductible and the co-pay will remain the same. She said the vision insurance was not increasing, and dental insurance rates will come up for a possible increase in January of 2020.  The city currently pays $1.7 million a year for health insurance.

Lym then moved to discuss any changes to the overall proposed city budget and to give the council an opportunity to review before the June hearing.  

“We are still working on the cost of fines, and Dennis Boal is looking over the matter of the costs for the release of public records,” Lym said. “We have to pay someone for the extra time it takes to scan and make copies, and we need to add electronic fees.”

Lym added that a base rate increase of $8.44 per month to home owners for water use needed to be discussed.

“We haven’t changed the base rate for the first 1,000 gallons of water used and the garbage collection fee from four years ago,” Public Works Director Gordon Robinson said. “We are going to be experiencing increased costs with the need to replace some water lines. When we look at applying for grants for this expenditure the grantees advise us to raise our rates.”

Other changes to the budget, Lym said, would be the decreased lease revenue from North Star, whose rental lease was recently decreased, and the fluctuating payment from the Wyoming Lottery Corporation. She added that the mineral royalty’s statement would come out the following week. She said there were no changes to the cemetery budget, and the golf course changes would come next year.

“You have the proposed budget to review and we have a couple of months to work on this before the hearing,” Lym told the council.

Director of the Evanston Parks and Recreation District Scott Ehlers brought a request to the Evanston City Council for an open container permit for the Bear Meadows area, including the walkway and the Bear Pavilion. The request came during the council’s work session on Tuesday, April 9.

The pavilion itself already has a limited liquor permit. Ehlers said the new request would allow groups to have events for adults by registering with the parks and rec to use the open container permit.  

“I’ve already had several different groups express an interest in holding adult-only events there,” Ehlers said. “If we had the permit, then groups would have to register with the recreation department when reserving the area for an event and law enforcement would be made aware of it.”

Police Chief Jon Kirby said if the groups want to sell beer, they would have to get a malt beverage permit from the city and police department. If they want hard liquor, it would have to be with a catering permit.  

Council members said they would love to see the Bear Meadows area used, and since there is a problem with turning it into a soccer field, this might be a way to increase its use. Mayor Kent Williams said he would discuss the matter of a resolution with City Attorney Dennis Boal, who was absent for the session, and bring it to the next council meeting.

Robinson, of Public Works, brought a request to enter an agreement with iWorQ Systems for a pavement management program. The software would provide a master plan to be able to project and plan for improvements and maintenance of city streets, storm water management and sewer management. The contract would include a one-time setup fee and assessment, the software program and an annual fee for technical support and services.

The assessment and setup would take approximately a week and would provide the city with a systematic approach to a maintenance plan with the ability to easily see the history of what has been done and what needs to be done for every city street, excluding the streets that WYDOT maintain. It would give Public Works a systematic approach of forecasting and recordkeeping and would save time and money, Robinson said. 

Evanston Director of Engineering and Planning Dean Barker said, “They actually come in and measure the cracks, rank them and recommend how and what to repair. Most of the cities in Wyoming have this system.”

Williams asked Robinson and Barker to obtain references from other cities regarding the software system and then they would have Boal draw up a resolution to bring to the next meeting.

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