Forum about Carson City water issues, potential rate hikes set
June 22, 2013
A public discussion of utility issues — including water supply, wastewater treatment and related rate increases — is set for July 16.
The public forum will be put on by Sierra Nevada Forums and will be at the Carson City Community Center's Bob Boldrick Theater, 851 E. William St. It will start a half-hour after doors open at 5 p.m. for the panel presentation and a question-and-answer session.
"This is an issue," said Andie Wilson, one the forum organizers, "that is relevant to every single Carson City resident because we all want our toilets to flush and we all want clean water."
On the panel will be Carson City Public Works Director Andy Burnham and his chief deputy, Darren Schulz; David Bruketta, the city's utility manager; Tim Russell, an engineer with Resource Concepts Inc., and Eric Leveque, senior vice president with Carollo Engineering Inc.
Organizers say Russell works with Douglas County, which has water-system ties with the capital city.
The moderator will be John Flansberg, Reno Public Works director. Organizers say they want experts both in city government and outside it who are familiar with utility issues, problems and rate matters.
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"We don't really try to influence the outcome," said Judy Welch, another organizer. She noted each forum is designed to include knowledgeable insiders and outsiders who use facts rather than opinion or speculation about topics selected. Earlier forums addressed things such as health care, climate change/global warming, and mental health/public safety.
Carson City's Board of Supervisors this week started the ball rolling on probable rate hikes both for water and sewer service due to capital-improvement needs for both water supply and wastewater treatment, also called reclamation.
The rate design study option chosen by the board in a 4-1 vote would institute a five-year phased plan that should raise 6.5 percent more revenue from water rates, and 15 percent from sewer service rates.
The next step is drafting specifics in ordinance changes to raise additional revenue with rate equity targets included, which basically means some utility bills will go up and others down. Final board action is expected in a couple of months.
Actual bills will vary, but a 50-page consultant report showed combined water-sewer rates for an average user in a single-family residence the first year could go up 7.4 percent, but that entire class of users could see increases of 10.4 percent in combined rate impact.
Rates, however, are just part of this forum. It will include, according to a flier put out by organizers, discussions on the condition of the city's water system, the water ties with Douglas County, recommended and required improvements to the sewer system, and how residents' utility rates may be affected.
There will be tours of the city's wastewater-reclamation plant at 5:30 p.m. July 10 and 9 a.m. July 15. Anyone interested in the tours can call 775-283-7357 for reservations.