An excavator sits Monday in front of Gondola Square, where crews are getting in final construction work before snow starts to fly in the Yampa Valley. City Council could formalize the city’s backing of redevelopment loans tonight in Centennial Hall.

Photo by John F. Russell

An excavator sits Monday in front of Gondola Square, where crews are getting in final construction work before snow starts to fly in the Yampa Valley. City Council could formalize the city’s backing of redevelopment loans tonight in Centennial Hall.

Water rate hike on agenda for Steamboat Springs City Council tonight

City Council could give final OK to increases through 2013

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Construction crews work in front of Gondola Square.

If you go

What: Steamboat Springs City Council meeting

When: 5:20 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 970-879-2060 or visit http://steamboatsprings.net for more information.

On the agenda

5 p.m. City Council meets as the Steamboat Springs Liquor License Authority

5:05 p.m. City Council meets as the Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority

5:20 p.m. Update from Howelsen Hill Centennial Committee about fundraising efforts for improvements to hill facilities; discussion of proposal for survey of voters on the Steamboat 700 referendum in March; resolution that would approve 2011 budget and operating plan for the Steamboat Springs Local Marketing District; resolution detailing city’s role supporting Steamboat Springs Redevelopment Authority bonds; ordinance that would give final approval to raised water and wastewater rates for city customers as of Jan. 1, 2011

7 p.m. Public comment; appeal of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission denial of proposal to develop two duplexes at Bear Claw II; City Council and staff reports, including likely update from city attorney Tony Lettunich on city’s purchase contract with landowner Lyman Orton

Editor's Note: This story has been updated from its original version, to reflect that residential customers of the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District will see a 2 percent increase next year in wastewater rates, not water rates.

Steamboat Springs City Council could give final approval tonight to increased water and wastewater rates for city customers from Jan. 1, 2011, through 2013.

City Council gave unanimous support Sept. 7 for rate increases recommended by Red Oak Consulting, a division of the national environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie. Red Oak is recommending the increased rates, and increased tap fees for new construction, to fund as much as $70 million of water and wastewater improvement projects facing the city.

The new increases would be on top of the 50 percent rate increases that took effect in 2009. Those increases were put in place after city officials acknowledged in November 2008 that the water and wastewater funds had dipped dangerously low. The reason for the low funds were the city’s failure to increase water rates in the previous 15 years, as well as the habit of using tap fees that should have gone toward capital reserves to instead subsidize the operating budget.

The current council is supporting a residential billing option that would emphasize a tiered approach to billing according to water usage.

Red Oak’s report states the typical residential water bill — for a single-family home that uses 7,000 gallons of water per month — would increase 14 percent in 2011, from the current $28.43 to $32.42.

Monthly wastewater rates would increase 8.8 percent in 2011, the report states, from the current $26.88 to $29.25.

The updated report recommends slightly smaller increases to one-time tap fees for new residential construction, including water and wastewater. Tap fees would increase next year from the current $7,435 to $13,724, an increase of $6,289. The previous draft cited total tap fees of $14,190, an increase of $6,755.

The city’s monthly service charge for commercial water use would increase from $19.50 to $22.78 by 2013, Red Oak recommends.

Red Oak also recommends an update in 2013 to address rates for 2014 and beyond.

Jay Gallagher, of the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, said the city’s upcoming projects will affect his customers, as well, because of infrastructure the district shares with the city. But he said he understands the city’s situation.

“I think the consultant, Red Oak, did a competent analysis of the city’s needs to meet their master plan,” he said. “I can’t argue with their methodology.”

Gallagher said the city's projects could mean wastewater rate increases for Mount Werner residential customers of 2 percent each in 2011, 2012 and 2013.

The largest impact, he said, likely will be seen in wastewater rates for Mount Werner’s commercial customers. Those could increase 30 percent next year, 20 percent in 2012 and 15 percent in 2013, he said.

“Surprisingly enough, I haven’t heard from any of my large customers,” Gallagher said, adding that one exception is Karl Gills, of Yampa Valley Medical Center, with whom he has spoken recently. “But this means that they’ll have about an 80 percent increase in their current costs … over a three-year period.”

Gallagher said last week that the Mount Werner district will host a hearing in October to discuss water and wastewater rates with its customers.

“I’m going to call some of our larger ones just to let them know that this is going on,” Gallagher said about tonight’s hearing in Centennial Hall. “If they want to talk to council, this is their opportunity.”

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

Comments

Jay Gallagher 4 years, 2 months ago

Correction: Only the City wastewater treatment rate increases will affect Mount Werner Water District customers. The Mount Werner Water District establishes its own rates for water and watewater collection. In 2011, wastewater treatment rates for District customers will rise 30% for commercial customers and 2% for residential customers.

Jay Gallagher General Manager Mount Werner Water and Saniation District

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