3-14 CCN Letters to the Editor

Raising water fees was difficult decision for council

 To the editor:

Why did the City raise the water and sewer service fees?

The Watertown City, along with many other area cities, had a building boom with new developments that brought many new citizens to Watertown. Infrastructure was laid for all of these developments and all of the homes that were built paid for the infrastructure.

Therefore, the City Council and City Staff at that time thought it was financially wise to lay infrastructure for a new development as an incentive for growth and so new homes would have fresh water and sewer service.

Then the recession occurred, with a very dramatic building slowdown beginning in 2006. The result was that there was very little revenue from this new development to pay for the infrastructure. The consequence was the City had to begin taking money from the General Fund to pay for the infrastructure bonds.

During the 2013 Budget process, the Council learned that from 2006 to the present time, $800,000 in water and sewer fund reserve and general fund reserve were used to supplement fees and charges. Reluctantly, after a great deal of discussion, a decision was made that to keep the City of Watertown financially stable, fees for water and sewer needed to be raised.

Understanding that these financial pressures impact everyone, the City has done everything it can to reduce expenses. Three full-time positions have been eliminated, operational expenses have been cut, and further investments have been deferred.

It is a sad situation and very unfortunate that the City has had to raise fees. As mayor, I feel deeply knowing that the raising of fees will be a financial burden for our businesses, school district, and for many of our citizens.

What can we do to bring more revenues to Watertown so you as Citizens will not have to carry such a heavy financial burden? Shop in your hometown, at Watertown businesses! The money that you spend in Watertown stays in Watertown. Also, we will bring new families and businesses to Watertown by being Watertown’s “cheerleaders” and promoting Watertown. Let’s fill those empty lots!

If you have any comments or questions, I am available to talk with you. Just call 955-3546. I welcome your input. The next mayor/citizen listening meeting is Saturday, April 6 at 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at R and B’s Restaurant.

Also, keep in touch with the City Council and City Staff by viewing our website www.ci.watertown.mn.us/news/ and www.facebook.com/cityofwatertown. Our City Council meetings are carried on Charter Cable Channel 12.

Together, we will solve our problems and move on to a more successful city.

Charlotte Johnson

Mayor of Watertown