The Milbank City Council met in a special session on Monday, March 20, at the Milbank Visitor Center. The board voted to approve Resolution 3-20-23. The council also discussed increasing the rates the City of Milbank currently charges for water services.
According to Resolution 3-20-23, the city can now apply for financial assistance in the form of loans or grants from the South Dakota Board of Water and Natural Resources. The money would be used to fund the entire project or aid in the funding of upgrades to the city’s water system up to $12.5 million.
The resolution also gives the mayor the power to execute the application and sign additional documents as needed. If the city succeeds in securing financial assistance for the project, the resolution authorizes the mayor to act as its representative.
Discussion ensued regarding the likelihood of increased water base rates and water usage rates charged to Milbank residents, businesses, and industries. Mayor Raffety reminded the group that current water rates have remained stable since 1994, with the exception of an approximate $10 per month surcharge added in 2008. The surcharge is an assessment to repay the loan that was secured to upgrade Milbank’s wastewater treatment facility.
Mayor Pat Raffety cited the project as a remedy for water usage restrictions often imposed in the summer months. He also noted the expected increase in water usage by Valley Queen when the company’s expansion, that is currently under construction, is expected to join the system in 2025. He explained that other businesses also have plans to expand, and along with new housing developments, the upsurge in volume could strain the system.
Council members also explored potential scenarios for distributing the burden of the increase amongst the users of the system.
No vote was taken, but action is expected to occur in the near future and possibly as soon as the next regular meeting of the council. If the board approves the rate hike, residents will likely see it reflected in their July bill.
The Milbank City Council will hold its next regularly-scheduled monthly meeting on Monday, April 10. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. in the Milbank Visitor Center.