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Polson Commissioners pass first reading of water rate hikes, golf cart ordinance

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POLSON — Polson City Commissioners passed the first reading of an ordinance to amend the City of Polson’s assessment of water charges. The rate changes will increase the utility bill for the average residential customer by $59.20 per month, resulting in a $93.51 monthly bill, according to the ordinance.

The rate changes would go into effect on Aug. 7 if the ordinance passes second reading.

The proposed ordinance cites Carl Brown from Carl Brown Consulting LLC recommending the commissioners  “equitably and reasonably spreading the service charges over the users and consumers of the water and sewer systems.” 

The amendment, again per Brown’s report, would eliminate the distinction between residential and commercial users. Base fees and water use fees would be charged on the basis of meter size, demand for service and graduated water use. “Snowbirds,” property owners who request a water shut off with the intent of having the water turned back down following leave from their property lasting more than 30 days, will be charged a monthly water charge during their absence.  

They also passed the first reading of a resolution to restructure the water system rates and provide for a change in the water and sewer rates. 

The increased rates would allow the city to have sufficient reserves to secure bond financing, meet debt service payments and increased operations and maintenance costs. The wastewater mechanical treatment plant is estimated at $18 million. Also, the City is undertaking a major water project called the “Downtown Looping Project” in fiscal year 2014-15 and is anticipating the construction of an east side well, estimated at $1,521,000. 

A public hearing on the ordinances will be held on July 7 at 5:30 p.m. in city commission chambers. Written comments may be emailed to or by mailing them to 106 First Street E., Polson. 

Commissioners also passed the first reading of an ordinance to allow golf carts on streets within the City of Polson.

According to the ordinance, carts can’t be driven: at night without lights, if they’re equipped with lights; during inclement conditions when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog, etc.; contrary to any Polson or State of Montana traffic regulation; without a valid driver’s license; with more than the recommended number of persons on the vehicle; without a valid City of Polson cart permit; on Highway 93 or 35, or in any area where vehicle traffic is prohibited.

 Also, carts must be driven in the far right of the right lane of traffic so vehicles can pass them on the left.

Polson Chief of Police Wade Nash gave some history leading up to the proposed ordinance. 

“Technically, from where the clubhouse sits, no matter which way you (go in a golf cart) you’re violating the law,” Nash said. 

Law enforcement has always allowed it, Nash said, but if the ordinance passes, police can enforce it and ensure public safety. 

The next city commission meeting will be held July 7 at 7 p.m.

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