After being forced to open its meeting to the public by the state attorney general, a working group created to evaluate the wastewater and water utility rates structure in Rehoboth hosted its first public meeting Feb. 20.
The meeting was the group’s sixth since being formed in early January. Shortly after Mayor Paul Kuhns formed the group, Rehoboth citizens Jan Konesey, Brian Patterson, Jennifer Duncan, Gary Glass, Steve Latsios, Marjorie Holman and Bob Lawrence filed a petition arguing the group was a violating the Freedom of Information Act because it constituted a public body and should not be meeting in private.
In a Feb. 11 opinion from Deputy Attorney General Dorey Cole, the working group was deemed a public body, and it was recommended the committee comply with open meeting requirements in the future.
The working group has made no final decisions, but it appears they’re moving forward on a recommendation to Kuhns that would have a rate structure based on six months of peak use and six months of nonpeak use.
Public Works Director Kevin Williams, who chairs the working group, said the idea behind this method is it should capture more revenue during the summer months, when there are more visitors. He said one drawback from this method is that a major reduction in flow would result in a major reduction in revenue.
The group is also looking at cost-smoothing, because in addition to a change in the rate structure, costly infrastructure improvements are needed for the city’s wastewater and water systems. The group thought cost-smoothing would be a good idea so the bills of ratepayers would be predictable rather than fluctuating as the city moved forward with those improvements.
The working group is scheduled to meet twice next week – 1 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 27, and 9 a.m., Friday, March 1. Both meetings are scheduled to take place in the commissioners room of city hall, 229 Rehoboth Ave.