According to a report presented Tuesday to the Anna City Council, residents can probably expect higher water bills in the near future.

The only question may be how much that increase will be.

Higher demand, increasing wholesale costs and capital improvement projects have left the city facing tough options for how to fund and maintain its water and sewage systems.

The city’s rapid growth has necessitated the construction of many new lines. There are also several existing lines desperately in need of repair.

According to one estimate, sewer line leaks cost the city an additional 5 to 10 percent each year.

For 2020, the city allocated $2 million for the treatment and transportation of wastewater. That number has nearly been reached only halfway through the year.

“We’ve got a problem and we’ve got to create the solution for it,” Mayor Nate Pike said. “If we get on it and do it appropriately right now, we can fix this and not see a major impact down the road.”

Part of the problem is that the city has not had a major rate increase for several years. Now, instead of incremental changes, rates could jump as high as 15 percent at one time.

City staff and council were directed to dig deeper into the issue to see what options are available.

These could include a combination of additional debt, budget allocation changes and higher rates, among other things. Pike said the goal should be a healthy financial solution that has the least impact to citizens.

New fire engine coming soon

The Anna Fire Department should have a new fire engine by late summer or early fall.

Council unanimously approved an additional $54,000 required to equip an engine purchased from the city of Coppell with a fire hose, rescue tools and equipment, communication equipment and other related items.

The proposal is part of the fire department’s strategic plan, which spells out vehicle acquisition and replacement through 2040.

“I don’t really think there’s too much to discuss,” Councilmember Kevin Toten said while making motion to approve the item. “We all know that this is a need and there’s no way that I’m going to say ‘No’ to this. They deserve it plus more, so we need to do what we need to do to help them out.”

Watch the Road

Also on Tuesday, the Anna City Council passed a resolution declaring May Motorcycle Awareness Month.

Motorists are reminded that motorcyclists have the same rights and privileges as any other vehicle driver.

The simple rules of motorcycle safety include being trained and licensed, wearing protective gear, riding unimpaired and riding within personal limits.

One step closer to normal

As COVID-19 restrictions are slowly lifted, Mayor Pike expressed his desire to get back to in-person meetings.

As has been the case with most city meetings over the past two months, the May 12 council session was conducted via Zoom, and broadcast live on Facebook.

The next meeting, scheduled for May 26, will be held at Anna City Hall with social-distancing guidelines observed. Space constraints in the building may still limit the number of residents who can attend in person.