The proposed rates increases for Rigby city water and sewer were approved Thursday after a brief public hearing that led to the council modifying the proposed increases at the Rigby Airport.
The water flat rate per month has now increased from $19 to $21 for residents and from $38 to $42 for non-residents. This in-turn increases the metered rate per thousand gallons to $2.10 and $4.20 respectively.
Sewer rates increased from $38 to $44 per month for residents and from $76 to $84 for non-residents.
Lastly, the access fee per year at the airport increased from $100 to $125 and the hanger per square-foot lease jumped from 10 cents to 12.5 cents per square-foot. The length of the lease decreased from 99 years to 25 years
Only one patron spoke during the public hearing, Richard Lee who doesn’t live in Rigby city limits but happens to own a plane that is currently stored at the Idaho Falls Airport.
Lee’s concern was the original rate increases at the airport of $150 per year and 15 cents per square-foot.
“I think the rate increase is a little much,” he said.
Lee said he would understand the city needing to increase its rates to remain competitive with surrounding airports in Rexburg and Idaho Falls if the Rigby Airport offered the same amenities, however it doesn’t.
He said unlike Rexburg and Idaho Falls the Rigby Airport doesn’t have a taxi way, onsite fuel making it difficult for pilots to plan or instrument approaches. Lee further explained that he’s excited for the growth to occur at the airport, although he thinks the proposed rate increases will do the opposite.
“It will deter people from coming to Rigby,” he said.
Airport Board President Michael Jenkins said unlike other airports in the area, Rigby does not receive federal funding to cover 90 percent of the expense to acquire the aforementioned amenities. With the rate increases though, it will augment the airport’s budget allowing them to eventually add a taxi way, instrument approach, more lighting, more security and maybe an automatic gate.
He highlighted the fact that the rate increases will only impact new pilots coming to the area, since the current tenants are on the old 99-year lease.
With that, Councilman Doug Burke moved to approve the originally rate increases. Councilman Kirk Olsen seconded, however Councilman Adam Hall, Benson Taylor, Richard Datwyler and Councilwoman Nichole Weight voted “no.” Each member that voted “no” was OK with the water and sewer increases but not the airport rates.
“I think we need the money to grow and expand so that more people come in,” Olsen said.
Despite that, Taylor moved to approve the original water and sewer rate increases and modified the airport rates to $125 per year and 12.5 cents per square-foot for 25 years.
The ensuing vote was 4-2 with Burke and Olsen voting “no.”