Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ketchum councilors approve rate increases for water, sewer

City Council also boosts fees for parks and youth programs

Express Staff Writer

    The Ketchum City Council on Monday passed fee increases for multiple departments, ushering in the new fiscal year starting Oct. 1. Unanimous votes from the council approved increases for the Parks and Recreation, Water and Sewer departments at the regular City Council meeting Monday, Sept. 15.
Ketchum Parks and Recreation
    Citing additional administrative, operation and maintenance costs, the Ketchum Parks and Recreation Department proposed an increase in certain fees, some of which exceed 4.99 percent. Increases are proposed for park reservations, special events, youth programs, after-school programs, adult recreation, tree permits, tree removals and memorial donations for items including trees and benches. The last fee increase for listed programs and services was last year, city documents indicate.
    Changes that exceed 4.99 percent include the summer youth recreation program, which will go from $880 for 10 weeks to $920, as well as a $20 increase for the five-week program from $440 to $460. The after-school program will increase by less than 6 percent for monthly and seasonal rates.
    These changes came into effect Sept. 16.
Ketchum water rates
    Public Works Director Robyn Mattison submitted a proposal for a 4.9 percent fee increase for water rates in Ketchum at the Monday council meeting. The City Council approved increases for the same amount in both 2011 and 2013, her recommendation indicates.
    Ketchum residents will pay a $10.44 monthly base rate plus additional costs per thousand gallons. She noted that people in Ketchum pay far less than other Wood River Valley residents—Sun Valley’s base rate is $13.92, Hailey’s is $13.59 and Bellevue residents are charged a flat rate of $25.20.
    Additional revenue generated from water usage, some $100,000, puts the total estimated 2014-15 revenue at $1.6 million. Some of this money will go toward capital improvements within the municipal water system.
    Increases begin Oct. 1. Following an October rate study, water rates will be reviewed again during the spring of 2015.
Ketchum sewer rates
    A 4.9 percent increase was also approved for wastewater user fees. Residential customers will see an increase of $1.18 per month and commercial customers will see an increase based on their user profile. The last time wastewater rates were changed was last October, Mattison’s report indicates.
    The nearly 5 percent increase likely isn’t enough to fund future capital projects—a larger rate increase is anticipated “in the near future.”
    The city’s wastewater bond was downgraded by Moody’s Investor Services in July due to narrow cash reserves and debt service coverage. Increasing the fees will help improve fiduciary balances, Mattison indicated. Ketchum residents will pay $24.85 per month, while those in Sun Valley pay $16.40 per month, and in Hailey $7.78 per 1,000 gallons. A rate increase for Ketchum will bring another $64,000 into city coffers and will “help improve revenues,” Mattison wrote. However, capital improvement projects will need additional rate increases for funding, she indicated.

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