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Bethel water increase passes on first reading

The Bethel Springs Board of Aldermen took the first step toward raising water rates at its meeting Monday.

Under the ordinance passed on first reading, the base rate for water will increase on July 1 to $11 plus $7 per 1,000 gallons.

The base rate will increase to $14.85 on July 1, 2012, and the rate per 1,000 gallons will remain $7.

Rates within the city limits are currently $9.50 for the first 2,500 gallons and $2 for every 1,000 gallons. Customers outside the city limits now pay $14.25 for the first 2,500 gallons and $2 for each 1,000 gallons.

Customers have to pay the base rate even if they use no water.

A state audit found that the Bethel Springs water department lost money for the past two years and suggested that they raise rates.

According to city attorney George Norton, if the state suggests that a city raise its rates and it does not, the state will sue the city to force it to do so. 

The ordinance was approved by a 4-1 vote. Vice-Mayor Bob Graham was the sole no vote, with Mayor Kay Cox and board members Bobby Gray, John Wood and Sherri Payne voting yes.

The increases will take effect upon being approved on second reading, according to the city’s charter.

In other actions the board,

• Approved buying a riding lawn mower for $3,850.

• Approved hiring a part-time summer worker to help mow grass and clean ditches.

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