Close to a month ago, the Pittsburg City Commission listened to city staff offer a variety of fee increases throughout various departments.

Close to a month ago, the Pittsburg City Commission listened to city staff offer a variety of fee increases throughout various departments.

At Tuesday’s short 8-minute meeting, the commission officially gave approval to a set of fee hikes, largely in the public utilities field.

John Bailey, Pittsburg director of public utilities, said at last month’s meeting that giving people a place to dump their grease and septic haulers at the Wastewater Treatment Plant was an important service to the community.

With more than 450,000 gallons of septic and grease waste in a given year, the current fees, he said then, do not allow the city to break even on the service.

Not changing in the fee structure for haulers is an annual permit fee of $50 a year. However, the cost of hauling will more than double depending on the type of waste, from the current rate of $20 for up to 1,600 gallons (with a sliding scale for more than that). These existing fees bring in about $7,300.

The new rates would be $40 for every 1,000 gallons of septic waste and $60 for every 1,000 gallons of grease, which often comes from restaurants. These new rates would bring in an estimated $16,740.

The other significant change is in water and sewer taps, which Bailey said is not at a break-even point given the amount of time, equipment and labor being used to hook a new construction into the city water and sewer systems.

As an example, a typical new home within Pittsburg city limits would have a 5/8” water line. Under current fees, the new home would be charged $433.45 for parts and a $200 tapping charge for a $633.47 cost.

Under the new fees, the parts would cost $493.72 and a service truck would be used for two hours at $35 an hour. Two men’s wages for two hours would also be needed (at $92.30 total) and an administration fee of $250 would be implemented, as well as increasing the tapping charge to $300. Finally, the inspection of the completed tap would cost two hours, at $60 an hour. All told, a typical new water tap in the city would cost roughly $1,326.

The largest fee increase, percentage-wise, was in the sewer tap of a newly constructed home or business. The current fee for a sewer tap is $50 for the tapping fee, which Bailey said did not approach the break-even point, not paying for parts, labor, equipment or inspection.

The approved increase would include $87.50 in parts, the use of a service truck for two hours at $35 an hour, two men’s wages for two hours totaling $49.71, an increased $200 tapping fee, and a two-hour inspection fee costing $120 total. The complete cost of an in-town sewer tap inspection of a new property inside the city would now be $527.21.

The city commissioners did make one change, however. The original plans called for a $300 performance fee that would have been assessed to the property owner if a plumber called the city to unplug a sewer main that did not need to be unplugged.

Commissioners said it was unfair to fine a property owner for an issue that was likely out of their control. Some even suggested that the fee should be assessed to the plumber. Ultimately, the provision was just removed after Bailey asked that he be given time to work with the local plumbers.

“I intended to remove that provision,” Bailey said. “My intent was to draw attention during my presentation last month. I wanted to ask for help on how to mitigate that somewhat. The best way, I think, is communication with the plumbers, not with a fee against the homeowner. I think our best bet is to meet with the plumbers in the coming weeks.”

Andrew Nash can be reached at andrew.nash@morningsun.net or by calling 231-2600 ext. 140.