Dumas, TX - While most of our area consider recent storms a blessing, city officials in Dumas say it's putting a damper on their revenue.
"Our revenue supports our debt service and because that water didn't come in like it normally would during those summer months, we find ourselves in kind of a cash bind," said Dumas city manager, Arbie Taylor.
Taylor says so far this year, the city has sold 200 million gallons less than last year. With a debt service payment due September 1st, city commissioners voted Monday to apply for a short term $1.5 million loan from Happy State Bank. Taylor says this decision wasn't ideal.
"Taking out debt for things like that even if it's short term, to me is unnecessary when we can build enough reserves to take care of those kinds of items and pay as we go," said Taylor.
Commissioners discussed how to avoid a situation like this in the future. The officials agreed the solution is to raise water and gas base rates for residents. The proposed water base rate would increase by $4, making residents pay $14 a month. The gas base rate would double, being set at $14 as well.
"It's always a hard decision when you have to raise the rate. You have to ask your citizens to pay more. We would love to have everything free if we could do it, but you can't. You still have to operate the city," said Dumas Mayor Pat Sims.
Taylor says he hates the idea of the increase affecting families on a fixed-income and suggested that people over 65-years-old wouldn't be affected by the proposed base rate increase. Officials agreed to vote in a future meeting on an ordinance that would raise the rates.
Officials looked at utility rates in nine surrounding cities including Pampa, Dalhart, and Amarillo. Tampa's water base rate is $23.34 and Amarillo residents pay almost three times more than Dumas.
"I want to be looking back in 12 months and say we did the right thing. We're never going to be in that situation again and that's the ultimate goal," said Taylor.