Indian Hills water and sewer rate hike in works | NevadaAppeal.com

Indian Hills water and sewer rate hike in works

by Kurt Hildebrand
Nevada Appeal News Service

Indian Hills water and sewer rates could go up a minimum of $35 a month, a consultant told general improvement district trustees on Wednesday.

Brent Farr of Farr West Engineering updated the rate analysis he provided to the district in 2007. The district didn’t increase its rates then.

Facing the construction of a plant to comply with federal arsenic regulations and a lack of money to cover the depreciation of the district’s sewer plant, Farr said the district could justify a water rate increase of $25 per month and a sewer rate increase of $10.

The district charges a flat rate of $23.54 for sewer and a basic water fee of $6.39, plus $1.95 for every 1,000 gallons of water used.

According to an audit performed in 2008, the district made $41,859 during the year, thanks to interest.

“You’re barely making it by with the current rates,” Farr said. “Your rates do not provide for adequate reserves, nor do they accommodate the upcoming arsenic treatment facility.”

Farr said the state recommends a reasonable water rate for Indian Hills of about $70.14 a month based on its median household income.

Farr said that with depreciation and debt, the sewer rate should increase to at least $33.21 per month for the budget to break even.

Water rates will take the biggest hit in order to pay for a $4 million arsenic treatment facility, which will cost $130,000 a year to maintain.

The arsenic plant will cost a district resident $13.50 a month to build and $6 to operate.

Indian Hills is under an order to reduce the arsenic in its water from 17 parts per billion to 10. The treatment plant is one solution to that, though state and county officials are encouraging the district to participate in a pipeline between Minden and Carson City.

Board trustee Denise Pierini said the district board wasn’t ready to raise rates two years ago.

“We were a new board,” she said.

District resident Bill Moriarty asked that the district tie the sewer rate to residents’ winter water use.

Farr agreed that when a utility charges a flat rate, someone’s use is being subsidized.

District engineer Brian Randall told board members that a proposal for extending a pipeline nine miles to the district is being prepared.

He said both the county and Minden have money to design the project and that costs could be available as soon as next month.

Indian Hills’ participation in constructing a pipeline would eliminate the need for the treatment plant.

“Everyone would like to see Indian Hills participate in the pipeline,” he said. “Nevada Division of Environmental Protection strongly supports the pipeline over a treatment system due to the cost of maintenance.”

He said a pipeline between Minden and Heybourne Road is only 24-inches wide and not large enough to serve Indian Hills, Carson City and northern Douglas County.

Not all district trustees were as eager to deal with the pipeline.

Trustee Laura Lau pointed out that just because Minden’s water in free of arsenic now, doesn’t mean it will be in the future.

Board chairwoman Dianne Humble agreed with her, saying there are no guarantees that the pipeline will solve the district’s arsenic problem.