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Council approves sewer rate hike
by Garrett E. Valenzuela
Jan 27, 2014 | 1196 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune file photo -- The Sparks City Council approved an 8.25 percent annual sewer rate increase beginning July 1 and continuing through July 1 2017, which City of Sparks staff said will address capital improvement needs at Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (pictured above).
Tribune file photo -- The Sparks City Council approved an 8.25 percent annual sewer rate increase beginning July 1 and continuing through July 1 2017, which City of Sparks staff said will address capital improvement needs at Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (pictured above).
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Sewer rates in the City of Sparks will be rising 8.25 percent annually, beginning July 1 and continuing through July 1, 2017, after the Sparks City Council approved a bill Monday afternoon amending Chapter 13 of the Sparks Municipal Code.

City of Sparks Director of Community Services John Martini said the increase comes as a result of a workshop with the City Council, addressing the need to raise revenues to fund capital improvement needs at the Truckee Meadows Water Reclamation Facility (TMWRF). The facility has had two failures to critical infrastructure in the past two years and the cities of Reno and Sparks have found a need to invest about $100 million during the next 10 years at TMWRF.

The sewer rate as of July 1 for a single family residential home will be $76.43 per unit on a quarterly basis. Multiple family residential and mobile homes will cost $66.14 per unit. The annual increase will bring rates for single family residential homes to about $80 in 2015 and about $90 in 2017, according to the bill approved Monday.

Councilman Ron Smith said the emergency failures that occurred at TMWRF recently have him thinking about the future and being proactive versus reactive.

"I think this is necessary to keep what we have currently and be able to better handle emergencies in the future," Smith said.

Sparks Mayor Geno Martini agreed it was the appropriate thing to do.

"I don't think we have to do this, but I think we should do this," he said. "We need to be prepared for the future in case of emergencies."

The City of Sparks' sewer rates will continue to remain lower than the City of Reno and Washoe County rates even with the annual increase, according to five-year projections of the other two entities increasing consistent with the Consumer Price Index.

The City of Sparks Parks and Recreation Department was able to continue two of its programs for underserved populations thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Nell J. Redfield Foundation that was approved by the Sparks City Council Monday.

The Leisure Without Limits and Nell J. Redfield Neighborhood Playground Program give children living with disabilities a chance for recreational fun throughout the year. Funds will be divided with $18,487 going to the Playground Program and $31,513 going to Leisure Without Limits.

According to a Parks and Rec. staff report the Playground Program has been in Sparks since 1990 and it presently provides activities at various Sparks parks and the Larry D. Johnson Community Center, including swimming at Deer Park Pool, arts and crafts and other educational components. The program is also supported by the USDA Summer Food Service Program, helping feed the children who participate.

Leisure Without Limits encompasses recreational activities for those with disabilities, ranging from the annual Adventure Day at Sparks Marina to Special Olympics Bowling and many other outdoor and sporting activities.

"Without this grant, these programs will be discontinued," Parks and Rec. Director Tracy Domingues. "It is hoped that these programs will find their way back into the budget as the economy improves. We are very fortunate to receive funding from The Nell J. Redfield Foundation for five consecutive years."

The Sparks City Council also voted in support of a resolution providing formal support to Gov. Brian Sandoval and the Director of Military and Veterans Policy, Caleb Cage, by agreeing to create Veteran Commissions at the local level.

Cage said Monday that the "Green Zone Initiative" was a state-wide collaboration to provide services and benefits to military veterans in Nevada. He said the Governor's Office was attempting to invest on the "sea of goodwill" present currently in the state.

"We need to capitalize on that generosity because in five or 10 years it might not be there," Cage said.

Not much detail was given about the Veteran Commission, but Cage said it would operate similarly to other city commissions and advisory boards. Mayor Martini and the City Council supported the resolution fully.

"I don't think we owe anyone more than those who have served to establish our safety and continue to protect it," Mayor Martini said. "I think this is a great way for us to communicate with those people and find out what their needs are."
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