Water-sewer rates to go up

Both water and sewer bills in Carson City must go up next year to cover rising costs to operate the city owned utilities, according to the city's utilities manager.

The Board of Supervisors will be presented the new numbers Thursday.

In the case of sewer rates, both the connection fee and the monthly cost for residential and commercial customers will increase. The sewer rate will rise 9 percent which will add about $1.40 to the typical residential customer and $6.15 to the typical commercial customer. A 1.8 percent increase in the sewer connection fee will bring that cost to a total of $5,853.

The cost of water will also increase - by 5 percent a month. But the connection fee isn't going up.

The monthly meter charge will rise 5 percent to $7.65. The user charges will also rise 5 percent. For the typical residential customer, the change will add 85 cents to their monthly bill, bringing it to $17.79. The same percentage will be added to the meter and consumption rates for commercial customers.

Utilities manager Tom Hoffert said Carson City's rates are still among the lowest in the region. He said the proposed increase is being presented to supervisors to ask what additional information they need or whether there are alternatives they want to consider before the ordinance increasing rates is presented. He said he expects the board will want at least one public hearing.

Hoffert said the increases are necessary because the water and sewer utilities are operated as enterprise funds, which means - like a business - they must generate the revenue needed to cover their operating costs.

Hoffert said this is the second year of a five year program raising rates for both water and sewer in small increments. That plan was adopted by the board last year based on an 18 month study of the rates.

"Last year we established the model and how rates were going to be reviewed annually and consistently from year to year," he said.

He said there was a 10 year gap between rate hikes last time and the result was that water had to go up more than 20 percent.

"We want to avoid rate shock," he said. "We need to do this in small incremental steps."

Hoffert said one change this year is the elimination of the charge for fire sprinklers and privately located fire hydrants.

He said this will reduce the cost to those few businesses by an average of $33.84.

So despite the 5 percent rate increase, those businesses will see their water bills drop significantly next year from $106.71 to $76.52. Hoffert said eliminating the charge was one of the recommendations by the advisory committee, especially since many of those sprinklers are located in public buildings - which means the public was just charging itself for the sprinklers.

Contact Geoff Dornan at nevadaappeal@sbcglobal.net or at 687-8750.


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