Water rate hike for Elkins passes on first reading | News, Sports, Jobs - The Intermountain

2022-09-03 05:31:37 By : Ms. Rose wu

ELKINS — Elkins City Council approved a 32% water rate hike on its first reading Thursday evening.

A second increase of 3 percent has been recommended for the summer of 2023.

After both increases, accounts using the average residential amount of water — 3,400 gallons per month — would see an increase of $15.20 per month, or about 50 cents a day.

All seven council members present Thursday voted in favor of the rate increase.

First Ward’s Rob Chenoweth and Judy Guye, Second Ward’s Lisa Severino and Mike Hinchman, Third Ward’s Clint Higgins and Chris Lowther, and Fourth Ward’s Marilynn Cuonzo were on hand to cast votes in favor of the increase.

Fourth Ward’s Nanci Bross-Fregonara and Fifth Ward’s David Parker and Linda Vest were not present to cast votes Thursday.

The second and final reading and vote on the rate increase will be during the Sept. 15 council meeting.

In August, the Elkins Water Board recommended the rate hike — which it termed an “emergency rate increase.”

“Without this rate increase, we would soon be getting to the point of not being able to make bond payments, pay vendors or make payroll,” Wes Lambert, the chief operator of the Elkins water system, said at the time.

If the rate hike is approved by council on its second reading on Sept. 15, it would apply to the billing period Sept. 15-Oct. 15. The increase would be reflected on bills mailed Oct. 31 and due in mid- November.

City officials said that chemical expenditures have increased more than 100 percent overall since 2018, the first year of operation for the city’s new $37 million water plant. The water treatment plant uses about 45 gallons of bleach daily; the cost of bleach has recently increased from $2 to $3.50 per gallon.

Elkins water rates last increased in December 2017. Under those increased rates, the cost for customers’ first 2,000 gallons rose from $10 to $15.25 per 1,000 gallons, a 52.5 percent increase, and the cost for customers’ next 3,000 gallons rose from $5.49 to $8.50 per 1,000 gallons, a 54.83 percent increase.

The increase was designed to help the city make the almost $116,000 monthly payments through 2055 to pay for the new plant.

“It’s now clear that the 2017 increase wasn’t enough,” Lambert said in August. “That rate increase was what was needed to pay initial costs and cover our monthly bond payments, but it didn’t turn out to be enough to cover the ongoing costs of electrical power and all of the new kinds of supplies that a membrane plant needs. A ‘smart plant’ like this has a lot of advantages but it also costs a lot more to run.”

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