The Benton City Council held first readings on six ordinances at its monthly meeting May 17 including an amendment to the current water and sewer rates.

The ordinance states the rates are being amended to keep pace with the rising cost of producing and providing water to and providing sewer treatment for the customers of the City of Benton.

The rate increase is approximately 1.4%, which was recommended by the Department of Local Government (DLG). The rate change will take effect July 1, 2021. The ordinance also says effective July 1, 2022, the rates above the minimum rates set need to be adjusted by the cost of living rate set by the DLG.

Water and sewer rates have been discussed several times by the council over the past year because the city’s rates are lower than other cities comparable in size; some significantly lower on the sewer service. Currently in-city residents pay $3.50 per the first 1,000 gallons and $5.00 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Calvert City residents pay $16.43 for the first 2,000 gallons.

Three ordinances were for budgets for the 2021-22 fiscal year. For the year, the city has budgeted the general fund to have $5,170.031 in revenues and expenses, and $171,000 in revenues and expenses in the ABC regulatory account.

The water and sewer department is budgeted for $2,555,660 in revenues and expenses. Benton Gas Systems’ budget shows $4,366,000 in revenues and $4,332,270 in total expenses, with a profit of $33,730.

The fifth ordinance set the pay of the members of the planning and zoning board and board of adjustments to $50 per meeting not to exceed $600 per year. The sixth ordinance is annexation of a 3.98 acre parcel of land off U.S. 641 South. The property is owned by Mayor Rita Dotson and her husband Doug Dotson. Mayor Pro-Tem Sherra Riley will be responsible for signing off on the ordinance after the second reading.

The council also:

• Approved the comprehensive and strategic plan for the City of Benton. The plan had to go back through Planning and Zoning requiring another approval from the council.

• Discussed an upcoming contract for a cable franchise.

• Approved meeting minutes from four previous meetings.

• And heard the monthly police report. During April, the Benton Police Department responded to 754 calls for service, worked 27 collisions, wrote 91 citations including 63 for traffic violations and 28 for criminal, and opened 10 cases.