Q: We just received our sewer bill and wonder how it can be raised 3.5 percent, from $45 to $46.50? Do they have to go into session to do this? Can they just do it any time they want?

A: The Northern Gila County Sanitary District enacted a 50-cents-per-month increase July 1, Joel Goode, general manager, said. That raised the rate from $15 to $15.50. The reason your bill went up $1.50 is that you are billed quarterly.

Each year the district's budget is published in the newspaper, usually in May, along with any proposed rate increases. Notice is then given of public hearings, at which residents have the opportunity to voice their opinions and concerns.

Finally, the district's publicly elected board of directors makes the final decision, adopting the rates and fees for that fiscal year that it deems necessary to meet operating expenses.

The sanitary district, incidentally, is a political subdivision of the state, Goode said. As such, it is obliged to follow the rules under title 48 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and is also under the jurisdiction of both the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

"Everything we do has to meet with the laws they prescribe," Goode said. For six years straight, NGCSD has been in full compliance, a distinction, he said, that very few districts receive.

Q: Everybody seems to be getting all worked up about the ducks at Green Valley Park. What's the harm in feeding them and just enjoying them?

A: While the majority of Paysonites seem to agree with you, the Arizona Game and Fish Department recommends that feeding of waterfowl be prohibited.

"This activity speeds 'taming' and encourages wild birds to delay or forego migration, leading to overpopulation problems," a spokesperson said. "If the presence of ducks is considered undesirable, new arrivals should be chased off immediately. Once the birds find a location with abundant food and essentially no predators, it's much more difficult to get them to leave."

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