The cost of storm sewer, sanitary sewer and recycling will go up next year for Anoka residents and businesses, which can expect the trend to continue several years.

All together, a typical single-family home will see an increased cost of about $2.28 a month, or $27.36 a year, beginning in January.

Finance Director Brenda Smith said the city needs the storm sewer and sanitary sewer adjustments to help pay for the street renewal program, which includes replacement of sewer lines, as the city ramps its street projects. She said the rate increases help spread costs across the city because even tax-exempt properties, such as churches and schools, must pay these fees.

Council Member Brian Wesp said the city is doing a lot of work and streets are important, but he wanted to remind staff “it’s important that the pencil is very sharp as we move forward,” in order to keep rate increases as small as possible.

Council Member Mark Freeburg said he understands the increases each year add up but was “confident that our staff does have very sharp pencils and only increases by what is needed.” He pointed out that construction costs generally go up every year.

Storm sewer rates will rise by 35 cents a month per residence in 2020, an increase of 8.1%. This year the city saw an increase of 40 cents a month, and Smith expects increases each year for the next few years to pay for debt shouldered for the street renewal program and to build reserves for future projects.

Sanitary sewer rates will go up $1.43 a month, or about 6.1%, for the average residential water user.

“Increased sewer capacity is needed to divert sewer drainage from downtown to the northeast corner of the city and will cost approximately $3 million in 2021,” Smith said. “It will be necessary to issue sewer revenue bonds to fund this infrastructure project.”

The sanitary sewer rates have gone up five times in the last 10 years, including in 2019, and the trend will continue.

“I foresee a 7% increase, 5% increase, out until 2025, until we get our rates where we need them to be to cover all of our infrastructure improvements,” Smith said.

One of the drivers of the increased costs is disposal fees charged by the Metropolitan Council, which the city can’t control.

Council members weren’t surprised to hear recycling rates are going up in light of the fact that China, where the U.S. used to sell many of its recyclables, has cracked down on the waste it accepts.

Single-family households will see the monthly recycling rate increase by 50 cents to $3.90 a month, while multifamily households will have a 40-cent increase to $3.10 a month.

“This proposed rate increase is to cover the new recycling processing charge from Republic Services,” Smith said. “This new charge is due to the change in commodity sales, processing rates and/or residual costs that we review annually.”

The City Council unanimously approved all three rate increases Nov. 18, with Mayor Phil Rice absent.


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