The Saratoga Sun -

Water rate talk eddies back around

After public workshops and two readings in Saratoga Town Council, new water rate schedule gets further discussion at joint powers board meeting

 


Much like an eddying river, the discussion around proposed water rate structures returned to the Carbon County Impact Joint Powers Board (CCIJPB) during their June 12 meeting. Following a meeting of the CCIJPB in May, the changes were sent to the Saratoga Town Council to be put into ordinance form. Then, during the June 4 town council meeting, Old Baldy Club (OBC) Manager Bill Culbreath requested that the council not hold the first reading of Ordinance No. 855.

At the urging of several members of the CCIJPB, however, Council member Jon Nelson requested the council hold the first reading, stating that any possible changes could be made before the third reading.

Culbreath was in attendance during the June 12 meeting, as was Patty Ramirez, manager of Medicine Waters Mobile Home Park (Medicine Waters). In previous meetings of the CCIJPB, both OBC and Medicine Waters were used as examples of lost revenue for the Town of Saratoga. While the joint powers board listened to concerns from both Culbreath and Ramirez, the two were reminded that the CCIJPB held two separate public workshops discussing the rate structures.

For Culbreath, his concern for OBC came in regards to the base rate that would be charged for the eight inch master meter that supplies the private water system for the facility. Under Ordinance No. 855, that charge would be $2,000 a month, plus whatever amount of water is used over 1,000 gallons.

“From what I have been able to research, I have not found another municipality in the United States of America that has a base rate at that,” said Culbreath.

Nelson explained that each municipality was unique in how it produced its water and, therefore, the way they charged for the use of that water was unique. Culbreath countered, stating that he felt any discussion about the number of residences at OBC or the master meter was irrelevant because they bought the water from the Town of Saratoga and it didn’t matter how they used the water behind that meter.

“I need to go back and sit in front of our board and say ‘This is how the town arrived at this number’ and why,” Culbreath said.

“That is where the spreadsheet started was looking at what is each meter capable of passing and how do we step-up in a logical way and, really, the base fees were scaled based on that, based on that meter capacity. Then, the rates per gallon were tweaked based on trying not to have any unequitable (sic) adjustments to users in the town,” said Nelson.

Ramirez had similar concerns to those of Culbreath. She told the CCIJPB that she was under the impression that the cost per unit for water usage would increase by $30. When she quoted the base rate for a six inch meter outside of corporate limits, $1,667.50, she was corrected by Roger Cox, who informed her that Medicine Water was considered to be within town limits and the base rate was $1,450.

The joint powers board explained to Ramirez that, currently, residents at Medicine Waters are paying approximately $4.10 a month for water. This is far less than the $30.76 that is paid by residents using a three-quarter or one inch meter.

“So, you’re still only going to have one bill for the entire complex, but it will more reflect that even number per residence. Every resident in town is paying $30.76 for water right now. That’s the standard water rate for a residential house in the Town of Saratoga,” said CCIJPB Chairman Richard Raymer.

Under the proposed rate structure change, residents of Medicine Waters would be paying, approximately, $29 per month for water usage with the combination of the base rate and the historical water usage over 1,000 gallons.

Following the discussion between the CCIJPB, Culbreath and Ramirez seemed appreciative of the answers provided by the joint powers board.

“I hope you see that there was some consideration into every question that you had for us, that we had already discussed how that was going to impact. In my mind, it’s more about the current users being able to maintain the system without us saying ‘Well, we need to increase all the current users because we haven’t been collecting revenue from these users that we should have been collecting additional revenue from,’” said CCIJPB Treasurer Russ Waldner.

Ordinance No. 855 will have had the second reading at the June 18 Saratoga Town Council meeting.

The next meeting of the CCIJPB will be at 6 p.m. on July 10 at Saratoga Town Hall.

 

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