Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sewer Rate Increase

With water bills tripling this year, residents are justifiably concerned to note an increase in sewer rates also taking effect this month. Here's a tiny bit of background.

As the TSSD (Timpanogos Special Service District, one of the best euphemisms ever) raised its rates this month, it became necessary for the City in turn to pass the increase on to the users. The TSSD increase was about 26 percent.

As a city council, we analyzed several variations on the rate structure looking for one that would spread the increase equitably without penalizing residences more than businesses or vice versa. We looked at what our sister cities charge. We examined low base rates and high base rates, low and high per gallon charges, and so on. What our analysis showed, based on usage patterns we have on record, was that raising the base to $24.50 and lowering the per gallon overage threshold to 3000 would result in roughly a 25 percent increase for both residents and businesses.

This was an important value to us because businesses such as car washes and laundromats within the city are already struggling epically with the water rate increases. Raising their sewer rates disproportionately could have put several out of business, with a negative effect on the local economy.

Where the City previously charged $22.50 for the first 6,000 gallons with an overage charge for any usage beyond 6,000 gallons, it now charges $24.50 for the first 3,000 gallons and $1.10 per thousand gallons over that threshold. So for 6,000 gallons the charge is $24.50 plus (3 x 1.1) which equals $27.80 -- about a 22 percent increase. City records show that most residences use water within this range, so residents are not likely to see increases much higher than this.

Like you, I still prefer the zero percent increase. But 25 percent, under the circumstances, is pretty manageable for residents, and will not put anybody out of business.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the TSSD plans to increase rates yet again, by the same amount, next year.


Blogger Heidi Rodeback said...

Was just double-checking my numbers against the minutes from the meeting. The approved rates represent a 17 percent increase for the single user; 24 percent for a household of 4; 28 percent for a laundromat and 29 percent for a carwash. Adopting a rate structure like Pleasant Grove's, with a low base rate and a high per gallon overage, would have increased residential rates by 8 to 27 percent and commercial rates by 57 to 87 percent.

If these numbers interest you as much as they do me, you really should consider running for city council.

10:24 AM  

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