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Lake Tahoe water customers could face 25-percent rate hike

Record-Courier staff report

Douglas County’s Lake Tahoe water customers are facing a proposed two-year 25-percent water rate increase.

County commissioners are scheduled to discuss the rate increase and consolidation of the county’s three Tahoe water companies at their meeting 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Stateline.

Public Works Director Carl Ruschmeyer said differences between the rate structures and requirements of the systems would result in inequities and potential cost shifting under consolidation of the Cave Rock-Uppaway, Skyland and Zephyr Water Utility District systems.

“This is especially true for the Zephyr Water Utility District customers who would carry the financial burden,” he said in his report.

After a public hearing on Aug. 21, county commissioners asked staff members to come up with a plan that would set up a single fund for the water systems that would account for each system separately.

Under the plan proposed for Thursday the rates would not be retroactive, and might require a general fund transfer to be used for a rate stabilizer.

The proposed monthly rates do not include any future debt service for capital improvements.

The current water rates for the system were established in 2010. The proposed two-year increase will recover the higher cost of services over the past several years, Ruschmeyer said.

Tahoe customers are now paying a flat $79.95 a month for a 3/4-inch water line service. The increase covering just the cost of service would rise to $99.91 and then drop to $96.75 the following year.

Ruschmeyer said his staff is recommending a stabilized rate of $99.91 a month for the two years.

“Over the past several years, general fund subsidies totaling $120,260 have been used to keep their rates level,” Ruschmeyer concluded. “The current monthly water rates do not reflect the adopted budget expenses or incorporate the new debt service under the most recent State Revolving Fund loans secured for the Lake View Water Line and LT2 Treatment Plant Upgrades.”