Sewer rate change OK'd

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The Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a change to the sewer rate structure.

The new structure sets a base rate of $6.77 for all residential customers' monthly bills. Residents who will be affected are those who receive sewer service from the city of Steamboat Springs, the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, the Tree Haus subdivision and the Steamboat II Water and Sanitation District.

The city was set to change its structure because a 25-year-old agreement between the water entities and the city will end Nov. 1.

The new structure will mean an increased bill for most residents, a change that concerned council member Susan Dellinger.

"It's a significant increase," Dellinger said, "I'm still confused about why it's so significant."

City Manager Paul Hughes said that the structure was not higher than comparable facilities.

"We have to charge enough to pay the bills," he said.

Don Taylor, director of financial services, explained that there are several reasons for the change. The city has been postponing necessary improvements to line replacements, he said, and the size of the water treatment plant has almost doubled because of expansion. The city also has been struggling to keep the plant staffed. Also, he said, the city is facing increased costs for hauling biosolids because of the high cost of fuel.

City officials have said the change will be a positive replacement to the current plan, which charged only city service area residents for maintenance of the wastewater treatment plant. City residents were also the only ones paying for collection by the main sewer line, called the interceptor.

Residents in the city service area will pay $17.92 a month for treatment, collection, interceptor and billing costs. The rate includes a $9.32 charge for replacement of the service area's collection system, which Taylor has said is outdated.

People who live in other water entities will pay the city the $6.77 treatment rate, and everyone but residents of Steamboat II will pay 29 cents a month for use of the main sewer line. Other costs, such as collection and billing, will be set separately by each entity.

Commercial units will continue to be charged by the number of gallons of water used each month. Those who use 1,000 gallons will see a 20 percent increase, and those who use 30,000 gallons will see an 81 percent increase.

In related business, the council tabled the second reading of an ordinance regarding the city's special connector terms and conditions, which acts as a service agreement between the city and the water entities that use the city's lines. The council tabled the discussion for Oct. 18 so a council member would have time to talk to officials from the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229 or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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