Randall approve increases to keep utility funds in black

Staff Writer

Randall residents will see increases on their utility bills next cycle, as the Council approved rate increases to keep funds in the black.

The move came as some of the utility funds the city has are generating less money and have more expenses than in previous years.

City Manager Matt Pantzke told the Council that due to Minnesota Power increasing how much it’s charging the city, expenses are piling up for the electric fund.

“Through June, we’re about $20,000 behind where we usually are,” Pantzke said.

The expenses are mainly the result of Minnesota Power making system reliability improvements and making moves to conform with environmental regulations.

The Council approved a rate increase for electricity rates, both in base fees and price per kilowatt.

The base fee increased from $14.50 to $20. In addition, Pantzke said, the base fee now only covers the cost of providing the service, not any electricity. Previously, the base rate included the first 40 kilowatt hours.

“The primary driver behind that is if you used one kilowatt or 39 kilowatts of electricity, your bill was always the same,” Pantzke said.

The rates then depend on how much electricity is used:

  • Zero to 360 kilowatts would cost 9 cents per kilowatt; and
  • Anything above 360 kilowatts would stay at 8.5 cents per kilowatt.

The total average increase per meter, per month, would be about $9.10.

In addition, the city is looking at updating the meters in town, as some have been malfunctioning.

Minnesota Power would provide the new meters, which can be read digitally, without an actual person coming out to a residence, for $3 per meter per month.

Pantzke said the increase is only to get the electricity fund back to where it was previously, and does not increase the city’s profit margins.

In addition, Randall’s rates, which were previously substantially lower than all other providers in the area, is now only higher than Pierz residential rates, Pantzke said.

The city uses the electric fund surplus it usually has to offset deficits in other areas, such as the sewer fund.

There, a $2 base fee increase, from $15 to $17 a month was proposed.

Pantzke said while no water rate increases would be approved yet, some may be coming as the city has its water treatment plant improvement project.

Councilman Rick Turner said the increases are necessary. “We can’t go in the hole,” Turner said.

Randall City Council Briefs

In other business Wednesday, the Randall City Council:

• Accepted a low bid of $1.1 million from Rice Lake Construction for the city’s water treatment plant project. Upon advice of its attorney, the Council also approved a measure ruling that Rice Lake Construction not listing a sub-contractor for drilling the well on its bid was an irregularity, but not an error that would affect the project’s timeline or budget and therefore doesn’t disqualify the bid; and

• Updated its joint powers agreement with the state of Minnesota allowing law enforcement and the city’s prosecuting attorney, County Attorney Brian Middendorf, to access the state’s networks for criminal apprehension to include Mayor, Danny Noss’ name.

The next meeting of the Randall City Council is Wednesday, Sept. 20, at the Randall Fire Hall.