Water and wastewater rates likely to increase in Craig in 2014 | CraigDailyPress.com

Water and wastewater rates likely to increase in Craig in 2014

Erin Fenner

Water and wastewater rates are likely increasing in Craig starting Jan. 1.

Craig City Council did its first reading of an ordinance Dec. 10 that would permit the city to raise water rates by about 6 percent and wastewater rates by about 12 percent.

The average water-use fee for residents is approximately $55 per month and $20 for wastewater, Craig City Manager Jim Ferree said.

Charter Communications req­uires the city to perform an annual review of their rates, Ferree said. Red Oak Consulting studied the rates, but the city worked to push the rates up less than what was suggested by the study, he said.

"We've been raising rates consistently, especially ever since we put in the water treatment plant," Mayor Terry Carwile said.

The city has to make sure they're keeping up with changing regulations and keeping a sufficient reserve for their water and wastewater fund, he said.

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The rise in water and wastewater rates is because of new environmental regulations, paying back loans on the new water treatment plant and because of the increasing cost of treatment chemicals, Ferree said.

"We primarily focus on our cost of operation," he said. "We haven't increased employees."

Carwile agreed.

"Environmental regulations that have had an impact on how we process our water," he said. "The cost of chemicals have gone up."

The city typically raises water and wastewater rates each year. This year, the water increase was relatively small. In 2012 and 2011, the rate increase was about 10 percent. But the wastewater rates jumped. Between 2010 and 2012 waste water rate increases hovered between 5 and 6 percent. In 2013, it rose to nearly 10 percent.

While these are some large increases, it's pretty typical for water and wastewater to increase disparately, Ferree said.

"It kind of flips back and forth," he said.

It's better that the increase is larger in wastewater, Ferree said, because water is the more expensive utility of the two.

"Water is over twice that of wastewater," Ferree said.

The money residents put in go directly to water and wastewater. It's not a tax, Carwile said.

"It's designated enterprise fund that goes directly from the folks who are our customers to the fund," he said.

City Council will give the ordinance a second read Jan. 14.

Contact Erin Fenner at 970-875-1794 or efenner@craigdailypress.com.