Water rates just another cost of rapid growth
Lyon County residents will be voicing their opinions at two public hearings this spring on some major increases in their water and sewer rates.
But the reality is that rapid growth has left them with few options other than paying more.
The older wells can no longer support the growing population, and the older equipment is no longer reliable. Without upgrades, it’s likely the growing demands on the system would lead to failures and shortages. And no one wants to think of what could happen if there’s a major fire during a period of low water pressure.
The water rates haven’t been raised for five years, and the new ones would go into effect on July 1.
We’re sure many residents will show up to protest the increases, and they may be successful in convincing the department to trim them. But only in the short term.
There’s no way to put off forever the costs of rapid growth. More customers mean there will have to be a larger staff and higher-capacity equipment.
The parts of the increases not due to growth are also uncontrollable. They include the increases in gas and oil and the costs of complying with tighter regulations and monitoring.
Rapid growth – Lyon County grew by 9.4 percent in 2005 – may be a good thing for the tax base. But the other side of the coin comes when it’s time to pay for the services that support the growing population.
It’s not likely to stop at water and sewer increases, either. Police and fire protection, roads and schools are all likely going to require upgrades due to the growth.
We wish Lyon residents well in efforts to make sure every dollar is spent efficiently.
But perhaps the most effective way to control costs is at a different forum – the one for the county’s master plan.
The master plan will guide how much and in what manner the county will grow. That process is expected to continue for the next 18 months. The plan’s likelihood of success will be measured by residents’ participation.