Utility rates big topic for Ammon mayor race
Continuing our election day coverage, Local News 8 spoke with the two Ammon mayoral candidates today.
One is incumbent Mayor Steve Fuhriman. His opponent is City Council President Dana Kirkham.
One hot topic in Ammon is utility rates, which are more than $90 a month for a home thanks to an extra $41 each month to pay off bonds.
"We voted a few years ago as a community to build a new sewer plant and to redo the water system and make it right, which we needed both items done. It's done now, so we had to raise rates to pay those bonds off," said Fuhriman.
The vote happened before Fuhriman's term. According to city administrator Ron Folsom, the water bond was for $14,287,000. The city made it's first payment in July 2012. The waste water bond was for $23,213,933.71, with payment starting in July 2013. Citizens saw their rates increase a couple of years ago.
They are 30-year bonds.
"People have had enough. They've hit their threshold. We've passed two bonds that have required us to increase the rates over the last four years, and I've gotten the message loud and clear that people want an end," said Kirkham.
Local News 8 asked both candidates how they will address this if they are the next mayor.
"I'll make sure we run as economically in our water and sewer departments, our street departments and so forth, that we don't have to raise rates any more. They may raise a bit because of inflation, but that's minimal," said Fuhriman.
"We're going to have to look for other sources of funding. We've missed the boat on federal funding that is out there. We need someone who knows how to access those funds and write grants, and I can do those things," said Kirkham.
"That means sitting down with department heads and going line item by line item through the budget and saying, 'Why do we need this, do we really need this much, is this something that is necessary this year?'" said Fuhriman.
"Of course we need to prepared for a rainy day or a capital improvement that maybe isn't anticipated, but beyond that how much should you have in reserve, and maybe we should take that into consideration, maybe we need to take some of that money in reserve and pay down the bond. That's one option that would be up for discussion," said Kirkham.
"If we look around at other communities who have had similar projects they're gone through, our rates our similar to theirs," said Fuhriman.
Both candidates also mentioned the budget, the original Ammon Townsite, and growth as key issues to address. Fuhriman also brought up street upkeep, and Kirkham discussed reviewing how checks and balances work within the budget.
Election Day is next Tuesday.
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