Utility bills paid by Rolla Municipal Utilities customers are generally lower than those paid by customers of other utilities within 60 miles of here, according to a comparative rate study presented to the Board of Public Works Tuesday afternoon.

Utility bills paid by Rolla Municipal Utilities customers are generally lower than those paid by customers of other utilities within 60 miles of here, according to a comparative rate study presented to the Board of Public Works Tuesday afternoon.
"Generally speaking, when it comes to the electric side, our utility rates are in the bottom 20 percent," RMU General Manager Rodney Bourne told the board at its April business meeting. "On the water side, we're in the lower 40 percent."
The study looks at the residential electric bills paid at the 700 kilowatt-hour, 1300 kWh and 2000 kWh levels and the water bills paid on a residential 5/8-inch meter at the 5000-gallon level.
The RMU numbers are the basic charges for electricity and water based on the rates. They don't include the add-ons, such as the PILOT, or payment in lieu of taxes. The same should be true for the other utilities, for they provide the information themselves and do not include the additional taxes and fees, just the "raw" charges for the power and water.
For RMU, the bills at those levels are $78.59, $128.81 and $187.40, according to the study.
The lowest at the 700 kWh level is $69.90 at Houston. The highest at that level is Newburg's summer bill of $104.43 (it would be $83.28 based on Newburg's winter rates).
At the 1300 level, the lowest is $107.96 for the Ameren winter rate (Ameren's summer rate at that level is $173.45),  The highest rate at the 1300 kWh level is Ameren's summer rate.
At the 2000 level, the lowest is Ameren's $150.10 bill based on winter rates (which is $262 for the same kWh in the summer). Ameren's summer rate is the highest at the 2000 kWh level.
On the water side, the bill at 5,000 gallons would be $22.92 in Rolla. The low--to-high range is $13.40 at Cuba and $41.15 in the Public Water Supply District No. 2.
"I'll be presenting the same information to the city council next month in my quarterly report," Bourne told the board before he gave the board the first look at the report to the council.
 By ordinance, the council requires an annual comparative rate study, so Bourne said RMU collects the information from the municipal utilities, cooperatives and private utility companies within a 60-mile radius.
"We're doing very well," Bourne said of the position of the utilities in the rate study.
In addition to the low ranking in the amounts paid by customers for electricity, Bourne is also pleased with the Service Department.
"You also need to look at what services we're providing," he told the board. The services are myriad, and he named several, such as bigger mains for fire protection. For the average ratepayer, though, Bourne said people should ask themselves, "If you have a problem at 3 o'clock in the morning, do you call dispatch, so they can call and wake someone?" Or do you call for service and have a service technician sent out immediately.
"We have someone on duty 24 hours a day," Bourne said.
In related business, the board approved the monthly financial report presented by Finance Director Dennis Roberts, another report that will be sent to the council at its next meeting.
For the month of March, the halfway point of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, the total operating income was $2,323,316.19. That compares with $2,576,727.91 for March 2016.
Total operating expenses were $2,390,065.62 for March. The biggest single expense was purchased power, $1,790,577.03. In March 2016, total operating expenses were $2,497,363.63; purchased power that month was $1,749,058.04.
That translates to an operating loss of $66,749.43 this year. In March 2016, operating income was $79,364.28.
All the other non-operating income and expenses factored together added another $28,950.30. Last year, the non-operating income for March was $19,133.30.
That makes the net loss for the month of $37,799.13. In March 2016, the net income was $98,497.58.
Perhaps more important figures are the year-to-date, showing what has happened for the first six months of the fiscal year.
Total operating income so far this fiscal year is $14,891,904.26. At the same time in 2016, the amount was $15,311,609.01.
Total operating incomes for the first six months are $14,746,350.48, compared to $15,081,311.59 for the same period last fiscal year.
That gives an operating income of $145,553.78 for the first six months, compared to $230,297.44 for the same time frame last fiscal year.
Add in the total of non-operating income, $280,047.24 this year, and the total net income is $425,601.02 for this year.
Last year the non-operating income totaled $475,616.58. Added to the operating income, that gave a total net income of $705,914.02.
That means the utilities are down $280,313 in net income this year from last year.
Finance Director Roberts reminded the board members they had asked for a report on the effect of the discounted electric and water rates that were put into effect this year.
Roberts said that without the discounts, the net income would be $1,128,055. That would be $422,000 higher than last year instead of down $280,000, as this year.
Bourne said in an interview after the meeting the discounts have affected the financials by $700,000,
That is not bad news, Bourne said, saying the utilities has "not really" lost a lot of money.
"The intent  is to return some of our capital back to our customers," he said. That was explained last year during the budget process. "We always envisioned we would do that."
"Our goal was to return just over $1 million back to customers," he said. "Our budget is doing $1.4 million discounts. We're right on target; we've done $700,000 here at the middle of the year."
Bourne said he believes "we're doing right by our customers," and "based on how we've been doing, I think my recommendation (at the May meeting when the draft budget is presented) is going to be that we continue the discounts at least for another year."
He said the numbers are not complete yet for the budget, but right now, "my gut feeling is we'll continue those discounts next year."