The Saratoga Sun -

Paying for use

CCIJPB explores billing water more equitably at pre-meeting workshop

 

April 17, 2019



The Carbon County Impact Joint Powers Board (CCIJPB) put their proposed rate structure to the test on April 10 as they held a workshop before their regular meeting. As was reporting previously (see “Reviewing rates” on page 8 of the March 20 Saratoga Sun), the CCIJPB came to the conclusion to reexamine the water rate structure following several months of discussion that began with outdated billing of the Old Baldy Club (OBC).

The hope with the workshop was that both residents and businesses in the area would bring in their water bills to be plugged into the proposed structure. While the council chambers of the Saratoga Town Hall saw more attendees than most meetings of the CCIJPB, the only businesses present were R.G. Raymer Construction and OBC.

Before entering current bills into the proposed structure to give people an idea of how much their bill might increase, or decrease, Jon Nelson, town council representative, provided those in attendance some background.

“Let’s say you used 8,000 gallons. Your first thousand gallons would be included. Your next 4,000 gallons would be at $2.50 per thousand. So there’s $10. Then the next 3,000 would be at $2.75. So you would be at $18.25 for your usage, plus the base fee of whatever meter you’re tied onto,” said Nelson.

The first to provide a statement for the proposed structure was CCIJPB Chairman Richard Raymer. The water bill provided was for the residential address of 1102 W. Elm Ave which, being behind a three-quarter inch meter, put the base rate at $30.76. Along with the base rate, the address saw an increase of $9.24 in its usage rate.

Randy Raymer, owner of R.G. Raymer Construction, also provided billing for his shop at 414 N. State St. and his office at 1101 W. Bridge Ave. The shop saw an increase in its usage rate of $1.57 while the office saw a decrease of $3.43.

“Part of the discussion in this process, too, as we revised our sewer ordinance a year ago we put an individual charge on every dwelling. Whether it be an apartment, whether it be a trailer. As opposed to going back to doing that, it congests the billing system, by doing this you can have a master meter. Our problem was, we didn’t know how to charge for the master meter and then go another 50 additional charges. By this way, you’re billing the meter usage,” said Richard Raymer.

As discussion continued during the workshop, OBC resident Ellie Dana suggested to the CCIJPB that they run a year’s worth of billing through the proposed rate structure to provide a more comprehensive picture of how usage rates may change.

“My opinion is that it’s a really good approach. I was just thinking about, to run your business properly, a complete annual pro forma based on usage would be really good and then I was thinking about people who would get their bills. It is the right thing to do, so I’m in favor. I was just thinking about individuals and your business, making sure that it comes out where it should come out,” said Dana.

“I guess, in my mind, there’s going to be some businesses that, like ours, see a decrease, but there’s going to be some businesses that also see, probably, a fairly substantial increase based off of their usage. Me, personally, I see it as consistency. The users that are using the water, using the system, are going to be paying, essentially, their fair share for the service,” replied Richard Raymer.

Even more discussion led to Randy Raymer suggesting that the CCIJPB reconsider the base rate in the three-quarter inch and one inch meters including 1,000 gallons and increase the amount of water included in the base rate to include up to 5,000 gallons. CCIJPB board member Roger Cox then suggested to lower the first thousand to 5,000 gallons from $2.50 per thousand gallons to $2 per thousand gallons and the rate of $2.75 per thousand gallons from 5,000 to 10,000 to $2.50. When applied to the bill that Richard Raymer provided, there was a $2 decrease, though the bill still saw an increase of $7.24.

“I guess, in my mind, you go to one of the local convenience stores to buy an iced tea, it’s $2.50. To be able to buy a thousand gallons of water for $2.50 is, I guess in my mind, pretty reasonable. I think that’s something that a lot of people don’t think about,” said Richard Raymer.

During the regular meeting of the CCIJPB, Nelson was asked by Russell Waldner, joint powers board treasurer, how much of a revenue increase he believed the CCIJPB would see from the proposed rate structure. Nelson stated that he believed it would be an increase of $40,000 per year.

“What I would suggest is that we get this table set at the conclusion of next month’s meeting and then make a motion to recommend that structure to council and then I will have that packaged into an ordinance and there’ll be three readings,” said Nelson.

Near the end of the workshop and during the regular meeting, Vice-chairman Craig Kopasz asked people to talk to other locals about bringing their water bills from both the winter and the summer, especially if they used water during the summer for landscaping uses.

“I would recommend everybody talk to your friends and have them bring in a bill from the winter and, if they’re irrigators, bring it from the summer so we can compare apples and oranges,” said Kopasz.

The next meeting of the CCIJPB will be at 6 p.m. on May 8 at the Saratoga Town Hall.

 

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