Friday, November 14, 2003
Yampa residents likely will be paying about $10 a month more for water and sewer charges beginning in January.
Water and sewer rates each are anticipated to rise to $23 a month. That marks the first rate change since 1999, when rates were set at $17.50 a month for water and $18 a month for sewer.
Once rates are changed, the town hopes to keep the same rate for at least three years, Town Clerk Janet Ray said.
The rate increase was necessitated by increased needs and costs, Ray said. Two projects that could require substantial funding are the installation of an additional water storage tank and the purchase of additional water rights.
Installing a new water storage tank is critical, Ray said. With the current system, if the water main into town breaks, residents will be without water until the break is repaired. Last February, the main broke, but workers were able to fix it quickly so some homes on one end of town were never without water.
"If we can't get it repaired right away, there is no water coming to town," Ray said.
An additional storage tank also is crucial to defend homes against fire, she said.
The town has taken several steps during the past two decades to prepare for the storage tank project, including controlling pipe corrosion and surveying the area for a good location for the tank.
The cost of the tank, estimated at $500,000 to $1 million, likely will be paid using grants and other funds, but money from the rate increases could be put toward making additional preparations for the tank, Ray said.
The town's interest in extra storage rights is preliminary, Ray said, and includes looking into acquiring more storage in Yamcolo Reservoir and in Stillwater Reservoir if water rights become available.
Most important, the increase in rates will help the town work toward operating its water and sewer systems "in the black," Ray said.
But even with the increase in rates and other miscellaneous income, 2004 revenues for water and sewer are estimated at about $155,000, Ray said. Estimated expenditures are about $225,000; the difference could be funded by using existing funds, she said.
It is important for residents to remember that the increase is critical, Ray said.
"I don't believe we would be looking at an increase if we didn't feel it was a necessity," she said.
The town also is considering extending the time period during which only 5,000 gallons of water can be used at the base rate without a metered charge, from October through March to September through April. During the rest of the year, 15,000 gallons can be used at the base rate.
The Yampa Town Board will consider the increases at its next meeting, which will be held Dec. 3 at Yampa Town Hall. Anyone with questions can stop by Town Hall to talk with Janet Ray or attend the meeting.
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