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Ranchos raises water rates

by Merrie Leininger

The Ranchos board thinks it’s time to get tough.

The Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District board of trustees decided Wednesday night that residents will have to take a hit of the first increase in water and sewer fees since 1988 and 1990.

In addition, the district planned a crac-down on residents who ignore the ordinances that ban dumping in the greenbelts.

District Engineer Paul Lumos presented a study to the board that showed how the water and sewer systems have been operating in the red for the past few years.

“The bottom line is the water system were operating at a loss. In 1997, there was a $32,000 loss, in 1998, there was a $16,000 loss and it is estimated in 1999 there will be a loss of $101,000,” Lumos said.

He said the sewer district is in an even worse situation, losing money since 1995. It is estimated $217,000 will be lost in 1999.

In 1988, the district raised water rates from $10 to the current rate of $12. In 1990, sewer fees were adopted for connections prior to May 1990 at $10 a month and $19 for those prior to May 1990.

Expenses of providing water and sewer to the Ranchos has increased in those years simply because of the increase in population, Lumos said.

The plan is to increase the rates over the next five years so the district will at least break even.

Lumos said the Ranchos will have to increase the water rates by 5.3 percent over five years and sewer fees 4.8 percent over five years.

“I would recommend you look at it again during the third year because these are only projected figures,” Lumos said.

The board members agreed the rates would have to be increased, but are still required to hold a public hearing to give its residents a chance to respond.

“I think it’s a wise thing to comply with this study,” Trustee Dewey Jay said.

Trustee Bev Page made a motion to put the issue on the August agenda for further discussion about how much the rates would go up and when, and to comply with the public hearings law. The motion passed unanimously.

n No dumping. Page next brought up the idea of providing enforcement for the no dumping laws in the greenbelts.

“It is just a thought, since people dump there constantly even though we do clean it up, maybe someone could walk around and cite them,” she said.

District Manager Bob Spellberg said the district does warn people of the law if they see continued dumping or if a resident complains.

However, the board decided the Ranchos needs stricter enforcement and will now be prosecuting people to the furthest extent of the law, which means charging them with a misdemeanor or asking a civil court to reimburse the community for clean-up costs.

The board decided against paying an additional employee to patrol the greenbelts, but will take note of those they continually have to clean up after or those that other residents complain about.

The motion passed unanimously.