The Duncan Town Council voted unanimously Thursday to raise water, sewer and trash rates and to proceed with annexation efforts.

Residents will see the following changes:

First 2,000 gallons — $30 up from $23

Every 1,000 gallons after — $4 (no change)

Sewer — $35 up from $28

Trash — $21 up from $20

Trash for seniors — $18.50 up from $16.50

Greenlee County residents who live outside the town limits will also be charged at a different rate for water than those inside the town limits. They’ll be charged $36 for the first 2,000 gallons of water usage and $4 for every 1,000 gallons after that.

In addition, the town council voted to start charging people who rent the town’s front end loader $80 plus the employee’s hourly rate. Up until now, they were simply charged $50.

The council’s decisions came just three weeks after Matt Bingham, an accountant with a Gilbert auditing firm, told council members he is concerned because the town’s financial health has been steadily declining for five years. The town has not been charging enough for water and sewer to cover costs and the town’s savings have been eaten away, he said.

Several years’ worth of auditing documents obtained by The Copper Era shows the town’s unrestricted deficit has increased nearly 89% over the last five years. An unrestricted net deficit is a summary of a town’s available assets after removing from the balance sheet fixed assets (buildings, parks, roads, etc.) minus outstanding debt obligations for these fixed assets. This commonly used fiscal health indicator should be positive for healthy organizations.

The town council raised water, sewer and trash rates in March 2019 for all but senior citizens. They raised those rates in March 2020.

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The council also agreed Thursday to allow Veregy, an engineering and energy services company, to take a look at the town’s mechanical and electrical systems to see if they need to be repaired or improved with an eye toward cost savings. In addition, they’ll analyze solar and renewable energy opportunities.

Veregy is a Phoenix-based company comprised of other companies that specialize in providing eco-friendly infrastructure upgrades for schools, city government, healthcare organizations, commercial buildings and federal facilities.

In February 2020, the Sahuarita Unified School District governing board, located south of Tucson, voted unanimously to adopt a $17 million energy efficiency plan pitched to them by Veregy.

The company told the school district that after they installed several solar canopies and LED lighting and updated their plumbing and HVAC system, they could expect to save $600,000 in utility bills the first year.

The school district entered a lease-purchase agreement for the $17 million and it entered into an installation and guaranteed savings agreement with Midstate Energy, one of the companies under Veregy.

If the school district doesn’t see the $600,000 in savings, Veregy is obligated to pay the district the difference, according to state statute. Under the terms of the agreement, the bill will never exceed the savings.

Several other Arizona school districts have entered similar agreements with Veregy.

Veregy is expected to report on its finding to the town council in June.

In other news, the council also directed Town Manager John Basteen to reach out to museums to see if they have an interest in taking a North American F-100F-10-NA Super Sabre off its hands.

The U.S. Air Force loaned the jet to the town in May 1998, but it was taken off its pedestal at Veterans Park more than four years ago so it could be repainted. During the process, the bolts that secured the plane to the pedestal were cut and Basteen has been unable to find anyone willing to re-attach the plane because of liability issues.

On Thursday night, council member Alex Blake said representatives with the War Eagles Air Museum in Santa Teresa, New Mexico said they might be interested in taking the plane.

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