Duo to present petition against Vienna rate increase

VIENNA — Two residents opposed to the proposed rate increase by the Vienna Utility Board have been circulating petitions they hope to present to Vienna City Council tonight.

Council will meet at 7 p.m. in City Council Chambers in City Hall at 609 29th St.

“We are not opposed to the increase as much as we are against the amount,” said Paul Yeater, one of the two people who began the petitions. “They want 47 percent for water and 30 percent for sewer; that’s too much.”

Joe Brookover said he began taking the petition door-to-door on Saturday and one has been left at Dutton Pharmacy.

So far, Brookover said, they collected 144 signatures in the door-to-door campaign. Not counting the ones left at the pharmacy, he said, he has 18 pages with 18 signatures on each page from Vienna citizens saying they agree the proposed increase is too much.

“I’ve never done anything like this before,” Brookover said. “I’d say 99 percent of the people are against this increase. I’ve been trying to get people to come to the council meeting tonight. I plan to keep collecting signatures until next Thursday.”

In an Aug. 30 meeting of the city council and the utility board, Mayor Randy Rapp outlined the need for a water and sewer service increase, the first in 13 years.

Rapp said the water department has a shortfall of $76,728 and the sewer department has a shortfall of $42,540. However, if the rates are not raised, Rapp said, both departments could face an estimated shortfall of more than $350,000.

Brookover said he will not address the council concerning the increase, but he has been told he will be able to present copies of the petition to the mayor, council members and the city attorney.

Yeater and Brookover said they and others want council to remember they work for the people of Vienna who voted for them.

Yeater said he is upset by the way money has been spent in the city recently.

“They put all that money in the Manville property; maybe they should have used that for water and sewer,” he said.

Brookover said he managed a business for 21 years and he does not understand why city council suddenly began talking about shortfalls in the two departments.

“I don’t understand how all at once they have a shortfall,” he said. “When you run a business you should know where you are; a shortfall doesn’t happen overnight.

“I managed a business and every day I knew how much I had and how much I needed.”

Brookover said he is not doing this for himself or for those of a certain group.

“I’m doing this for the citizens of Vienna,” he said. “It’s for all Vienna citizens from the young to the elderly.”

In Vienna, the current water rate is $2.04 per 3,000 gallons; $1.70 for the next 17,000 gallons and $1.38 for 20,000 or more gallons used. Under the proposal, water rates would increase to $3 for the first 3,000 gallons; $2.50 for the next 17,000 and $2 for 20,000 or more gallons, an increase of 47.06 percent.

For sewer service a 30 percent increase would mean a customer using 5,000 gallons would pay $9.10 compared to the current rate of $7; a customer using 15,000 gallons would pay $6.50, up from $5, and a customer using 20,000 or more gallons would pay $4.55, up from $3.50. Vienna’s minimum bill would go from $14 to $18.20.

Officials said they must have a certain amount of money in place to service their bonds. They also must comply with a new state law requiring the water and sewer departments to hold 12.5 percent of the operations and maintenance budget in reserve.

Before the law changed, water and sewer departments were expected to work as break-even businesses.