By Ross Evavold, Annandale Advocate Managing Editor-
For the second consecutive year, residents and businesses in Annandale, Maple Lake and Howard Lake will not see an increase in wastewater user rates for the coming year. At its quarterly meeting Thursday, Dec. 21, the Annandale-Maple Lake-Howard Lake Wastewater Commission voted unanimously to approve the budget for 2018, which included no change in rates. With the rate remaining at $7 per 1,000 gallons, the average user’s monthly bill will remain at $31.50 for the third straight year. Last year was the first time since the wastewater treatment plant opened in 2009 where the rate did not increase. Prior to that, double-digit rate increases had been the rule. “We’re in a really good position,” said secretary Kelly Hinnenkamp, adding that the plant expects to record its second straight positive cash-flow year. With figures through October and projections for November and December, the wastewater plant’s revenues are expected to be $2,124,269 and expenditures of $1,768,573, giving it a net gain of $355,696. That would bring its cash reserves to $1,032,549. The first year the wastewater plant turned in a positive cash-flow was 2016, when revenues came in $69,653 ahead of expenses. The cash reserves were expected to grow in 2017, partially due to a new Forsman Farms operation in Howard Lake, which conservative estimates had expected to produce at least $75,000 in revenue. It has turned out to be much higher than that, anywhere from $40,000 to $60,000 per month, Hinnenkamp said. “What they’re paying each month is equivalent to what most of our communities are paying,” she said. The financials from August to October were approved. Hinnenkamp said the expenses were close to what was budgeted, with the replacement of pumps and work with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency renewals showing a slight increase in those two areas.