Substantial water-rate increase being sought
December 13, 2006
Water rates might rise sharply during 2007 to offset operating costs, according to Carson City officials.
Two 14 percent hikes are being proposed: One would begin in February and the other in July – for a total of 28 percent.
For example, a resident using about 14,000 gallons a month who now pays $18.62 will see that amount go up to $24.25 after July 1. Small commercial customers who consume 11,000 a month would see the cost jump from $16.13 to $21 within the same time frame. A heavy water user “will see a pretty good jump,” said City Manager Linda Ritter.
There was no rate increase during 2006. The most recent water-rate hike was in 2005, when supervisors approved two 7 percent increases, which were also staggered.
“We were looking for other options, such as cutting back on expenses,” Ritter said.
And grant money was sought for such things as water-quality improvement, but the effort wasn’t fruitful, she said.
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The raises represent an 11 percent increase in operations and maintenance, which includes power costs, chemicals, water sampling, wholesale water purchases and leases; a 3 percent increase for water supply improvements; a 6 percent increase to improve the water system; a 4 percent increase to improve water quality; and a 4 percent increase for other capital improvements.
The same resident using 14,000 gallons would pay $45.18 living in the Truckee Meadows and $88.35 in Mound House. While it’s a large increase for Carson City water customers, “we remain lower than everyone else in the region,” Ritter said.
Water service is one of the city’s enterprise programs. These are services that aren’t funded by tax revenues but by user fees, and operate similar to businesses. More than half of the city’s budget is comprised of “enterprise” services, which are expected to require $60 million during this fiscal year ending June 30, 2007.
To keep up with expenses, the city projects the need for lower increases during subsequent years of 5 percent to 6 percent. These won’t be part of the proposal to be considered by the Carson City Board of Supervisors next month.
The city expects to require $18.7 million to complete water-replacement projects through 2011, such as $5.5 million to relocate water lines because of the freeway project and $3.2 million to reduce the amount of arsenic in the water supply.
Expansion of the system, also through 2011, is expected to cost $8.4 million.
“I don’t expect people to embrace it,” said Mayor Marv Teixeira. “But we don’t have an alternative. We just have to do what we have to do.”
The supervisors are expected to examine the proposal and vote on it for the first time during their Jan. 4 meeting. Final approval for the hikes could come at the Jan. 18 meeting.
• Contact reporter Terri Harber at firstname.lastname@example.org or 882-2111, ext. 215.