Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Ketchum approves water rate increase

New rates start Oct. 1

Express Staff Writer

A water rate increase in Ketchum last year prompted customers to use less water. The result for the city was less revenue. The result for water users will be another rate increase.

The City Council approved Monday a request by Utilities Department Manager Steve Hansen for a 4.9 percent across-the-board increase in water rates, which will fund capital improvements.

Water rates will increase as of the Oct. 1 billing and will be based on use beginning on that date, Hansen said.

Minimum base fees for metered accounts will rise from $9.05 per month to $9.49. A typical residential customer using 30,000 gallons of water a month during the summer will see his or her bill rise from $46.77 to $49.06.

Hansen presented the initial request to the council during this summer's budget discussions. He said necessary capital projects for the coming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, include repairs to broken water lines, meter-reading upgrades, installation of a new standby generator for water operations and administration buildings, and replacement of the Warm Springs booster station standby generator.

The backup generator projects are critical, he said.

"These projects must be completed ASAP if we are to continue to provide reliable and consistent service to our customers during times of power outages," he said in a memo to the mayor and council.

The city raised rates in July 2010; since then, water use has dropped by an average of 18 percent.

"This reduction in water usage has lowered current and projected revenue collections," a staff report states.

Revenues for the current fiscal year are projected to have a $350,000 shortfall.

Rebecca Meany:

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