Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Hailey leaders vote to raise sewer rates

New rate structure deemed ‘more equitable’


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

    The Hailey City Council voted Monday to increase water and wastewater fees in order to cover the cost of building a new bio-solids treatment facility in Woodside subdivision.
    The council also approved a new rate structure for wastewater fees that will be more equitable for low-volume rate payers.
    Those discharging 1,000 gallons or less will see no increase in rates. The new sewer rate for those who discharge 3,000 gallons (the median average) will increase from $30.71 to $32.11.
    The new wastewater rate structure combines both bond and user fees into a per-gallon/per-month usage model.
    “The more you use the more you pay,” said Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle.
    Hailey voters approved a $6.5 million bond in May to pay for the bio-solids facility, increasing sewer rates by $3.50 per month for the 20-year term of the bond.
    On Oct. 1, the water fee base rate, which accounts for 25 percent of the Water Department budget, will be increased from $7.25 to $8.24 per month for fiscal year 2015. An additional charge is added based on the amount of water used each month.
    The sewer bond fee will be decreased from $3.99 to $3.89 per month, based on a new formula that Public Works Director Mariel Platt said would be more equitable for lower rate users.


Those discharging 1,000 gallons or less will see no increase in rates.



    The old rate structure consisted of a user fee based on gallons of water used during the winter months, plus a flat bond fee. Under that structure, the flat bond fee was nearly 25 percent of the entire sewer rate for those using under 10,000 gallons per month.
    If that rate structure were to remain in effect with the new bond, the larger user would see a decrease in fees, and the smaller user would see an increase in fees, said Platt.
    In other Hailey news:    
- Platt reported that a water main leakage study last year resulted in repairs of water lines that will save the city about 2 million gallons of water per month in lost water.
- Micah Austin, community development director, reported that the Hailey Gateway Urban Renewal District showed its first revenue, about $13,400, that the city will receive next year.     
Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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