Proposed water rate increase heads to Cloquet Council soon

City officials have until the end of the calendar year to change the city budget to account for the increase. A proposal could come before the council as soon as its Dec. 6 meeting. The new rate would add $3.95 to residential water bills.

Cloquet city hall sign.jpg
Cloquet City Hall. Dylan Sherman/ 2022 File / Pine Journal
We are part of The Trust Project.

CLOQUET — The Cloquet City Council has until the end of the year to increase city water rates after hearing a proposal from the public works department earlier this month.

Finance director Katie Bloom told the Pine Journal officials have until the end of the calendar year to change the city budget to account for the increase. A proposal could come before the council as soon as its Dec. 6 meeting.

Caleb Peterson, public works director for the city, said during a Nov. 1 meeting that the water fund is getting hurt by inflation.

"Even though nobody likes the idea of an increase, I think we can make a strong case that we are not overcharging our residents," he said.

Some of the high pressure pumps are seeing costs increase as the electricity to power them is costing more, Peterson said.


"Chemicals, chlorine, fluoride — everything we are mandated to add to the water — those costs continue to rise," he said. "Even in parts and pieces, fire hydrants, water shut offs, the costs have gone up significantly over the last couple of years — even if we can get our hands on them."

According to city documents, the estimated increase would be $3.95 per 4,000 gallons. The total rate for 4,000 gallons, including sewer, used in the residential households in Cloquet would be $59.40 per month compared to $55.45 with the current rates.

The estimated monthly increase to commercial users would be $24.75 for 30,000 gallons.

If the increase is approved, Cloquet's rates would still be lower than neighboring municipalities, Duluth coming in at $69.56, Carlton at $103.13 and Hermantown at $94.17.

Peterson added that the increasing the fund will allow the city to adapt to any new regulations the Environmental Protection Agency puts on water treatment.

"That is a big unknown for us. We want to put the fund in a position that we can react to that when the time comes," he said.

City Administrator Tim Peterson said officials annually review department budgets, and the water fund's outlook stood out.

"The water budget basically just got worse and worse the farther we went out if we weren't going to make some sort of adjustment," he said.


While the increase will have a dramatic impact on the department's long-term planning, Tim Peterson said it would only equate to a 60-cent per month increase to customers.

"Lets just start now, make an adjustment now for a brief period of time, and then try go back to our original plan and see what the impact was," he said.

The increase will allow the city to continue down the path of reinvesting in its system as well as keep costs low for the customer, Tim Peterson said. While property taxes are high in the county, he said it was a relief to see the city not overcharging on utilities as well.

"I think we do a really good job at keeping costs low and maintaining our system, while also realizing we do need to put capital investment into those utilities in order for them to be sustainable," he said.

Councilor Kerry Kolodge said he thinks that the change would be a good deal for residents, especially with some of the sewer costs being out of the city's control as it comes from the treatment plant.

Dylan covers the local governments of Cloquet and Carlton County, as well as the Esko and Wrenshall school boards for the Cloquet Pine Journal.
What to read next
Performances of 'A Christmas Carol' begin Friday, Dec. 2.
Wrenshall Community Education Director Ashley Laveau gives an update on course offerings and events:
The Cloquet School Board approved a construction manager and a bidding process for the proposed $4.5 million renovation project at its meeting Monday, Nov. 28. Officials also laid out tentative plans to pay for the costs of the project.
The bat, once common across northern Minnesota forests, has been decimated by white-nose syndrome.