Carson City stormwater rate recommendation delayed when committee gets new proposal

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A Carson City committee looking at redoing stormwater rates decided to keep investigating different ways to raise fees after Public Works staff came to the meeting with a new proposal.

The Utility Finance Oversight Committee met Monday to make a recommendation to the Board of Supervisors on a new rate structure for stormwater charges that would raise an additional $1.4 million annually to shore up the fund and finance needed capital improvement projects. The UFOC began discussing rates in March, when Farr West Consulting, the consultant doing the city’s rate study, started presenting preliminary findings.

But, the UFOC decided to table the decision and directed staff to refine details on two of the five proposed methodologies — one that would charge classes of users based on a property’s impervious surfaces and another, the latest idea, that would essentially tweak the existing rate structure.

Andy Hummel, wastewater utility manager, said the new proposal incorporated public comment the department had received from residents and businesses after several public meetings on the topic.

“Some of the comments we received were to have a different type of billing depending on the class,” Hummel said after the meeting.

The current rate structure charges a flat monthly rate to five classes of users based on zoning. Single-family residents pay $5.69, multifamily properties pay $29.33, public property pays $32.03, manufacturers pay $38.19 and commercial properties pay $40.96.

The new idea would charge a flat rate for residents and for properties zoned agriculture, open space or public.

One change would be to add tiered rates for manufacturing and commercial users based on the size of their properties.

The other change would be to multifamily properties, which are now charged one rate no matter their size. The new proposal would charge them based on the number of units, equating two units to a single-family rate, and capping it at twice the highest commercial rate.

The exact figures are something staff will return with in January when the UFOC meets again, but the initial calculations showed a flat rate of $9.34 for residents and $52.56 for ag, open space and public properties.

The multifamily would start at $9.34 for two-unit properties and cap out at $100.50, which would be about 22 units and above.

The manufacturing class would have three tiers, based on property size, and start at $38.19 and end at $94.50. The commercial properties would have four tiers, starting at $9.34 and ending at $100.50.

During public comment, Dana Whaley, general manager at Carson City Toyota, representing the Dick Campagni Auto Group, said he favored the new method after discussing it with staff.

“We feel the increase is necessary and the hybrid (approach) is more in line with what all businesses in Carson City could accept,” said Whaley.

The other method staff and the consultant will look into further is based on impervious surfaces, such as rooftops and parking lots. One suggestion using that model is to charge a flat residential rate and then several tiers for all other properties

Preliminary figures that started at a flat rate of $9.30 for homeowners and a maximum $248 for the largest non-residential properties, such as car dealers and big box stores.

That approach would require the city to measure impervious surfaces at all but residential properties and maintain that data.

The UFOC also wanted staff to look into several other issues, including indexing the rates so they increase with inflation, combining commercial and manufacturing properties into a single class, and providing some kind of credit and incentive for properties to add low-impact development features like detention basins which reduce stormwater runoff.

“We believe we’re retaining 100 percent of the water due to the elevation of the detention basin,” said Shelly Aldean, part owner and maintenance director at Southgate Mall, which was required by the city to dedicate land for the basin. “I recommend that if you do go with the modified impervious approach you do give some credit to properties with detention basins.”

The UFOC is tentatively scheduled to meet on Jan. 13 and the final decision on the new rates will be made by the Board of Supervisors.


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