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City Council to discuss sprinkling policy

The Bemidji City Council is expected to discuss the city's policy on meters that measure water usage for sprinkling. The council will convene for a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall. Since residents are charged for sanitary sewer use ...

The Bemidji City Council is expected to discuss the city's policy on meters that measure water usage for sprinkling.

The council will convene for a regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday at City Hall.

Since residents are charged for sanitary sewer use based on the amount of their water usage, the city of Bemidji has offered a sprinkling "discount" - but the resident must pay for a second water meter that measures the water used for sprinkling.

The cost for the sprinkle is about $125 and installation costs between $75 and $150 depending on the situation, according to a staff report from City Manager John Chattin that is included in the council packet for Monday's meeting.

City staff has been looking into alternatives and whether there are grants available to help cover the cost of water meter installation.

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Staff has recommended that the city continue its current policy, the report says. As an alternative, staff has posed the possibility of having the city cover the cost for the sprinkling meter (about $125) but installation costs would be paid by the customer.

The report noted a recent study of city utility funds that indicates that the city's sanitary sewer fund will begin generating deficits in 2009.

"Expansion of sprinkling discounts beyond the current policy could result in reduced sewer revenue which would further erode the financial health of the sewer fund," the report says.

Staff found no grants available to assist in the purchase of water meters, the report says.

The matter was last discussed by the City Council during an August meeting last year. Then, it was reported that there are 3,300 total utility accounts, and 171 sprinkling meters in the city. About 18 meters are added annually, so the cost would be about $2,300 to the city each year, according to information presented during that meeting.

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