City addresses ‘trippers,’ electric rates

By Travis Gulbrandson

The Vermillion City Council approved resolutions regarding sidewalk repairs and amending electric rates at its regular meeting last week.

The resolution of necessity for sidewalk repairs pertains to sidewalks in the southwest quadrant of town, which is the area south of National Street and west of Dakota Street.

The repairs in question stem from a 2010 program under which the city inspected sidewalks for effects, including small holes and “trippers.”

Using 2013 prices, the cost for all of the repairs is estimated at $213,601.73, along with an administration fee of either eight percent or $50, whichever is greater.

According to a memo provided to the council members, property owners will be given until June 30, 2015, to demonstrate they have the work under contract to be completed by the end of that year.

“If the property owners do not demonstrate that they either have the work under contract or that the work has been completed, then the work will be completed by the city,” the memo said.

The affected property owners were notified by mail about last week’s meeting, which was a public hearing. Notice of the hearing also was published twice in the Plain Talk.

The council tabled a similar motion last year after several residents raised questions about publication of that night’s hearing.

The council also voted to increase the Missouri River Energy Services (MRES) rates by 2.2 percent or $0.002 per kilowatt hour.

At a meeting held in December, City Finance Officer Mike Carlson said most households have an average of 1,000 kilowatts, which would be $2 per month.

At that same meeting, City Manager John Prescott said that in late October the city received notice that MRES would be increasing its charges for supplemental power by 5.5 percent in 2014.

Vermillion is one of about 60 communities that uses MRES.

The Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), which provides 60 percent of the city’s power, is not projecting any rate changes for the year.

City and MRES staff suggested the 2.2 percent rate increase to the utilities committee, Prescott said last month.

“It would not be necessary at this time to collect that all 12 months of the year, but if we pulled that off and do a rate increase the goes out on the bills that are mailed out in February that are due no later than March 10, 2014, that would help balance out what we need,” he said.

The last time the city saw an electric rate increase was July 2011, at which time an increase of slightly more than 2 percent was enacted.

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