Water, wastewater rates to go up in Craig | CraigDailyPress.com

Water, wastewater rates to go up in Craig

Patrick Kelly

Craig City Council officially adopted an ordinance to increase water and wastewater rates at its biweekly meeting Tuesday night.

The rate increase accounts for stagnation in demand for the services and higher costs to run the facilities, said Craig Finance Manager Bruce Nelson.

"Our expenditure for last year is exceeding the revenues coming in," said Nelson. "Plus the fact that we have some regulations coming down here in the very near future, we may have to have some revenue to offset some of those expenditures."

According to the city's proposed budget for 2016, the water fund is projected to collect $2.92 million by the end of the year while expending $3.08. Wastewater is also in a deficit with revenues at $1.48 and expenditures at $1.64.

To maintain the health of both funds under pressure from inflation and increased regulatory costs, the city council voted unanimously — 6-0, with Councilor Kent Nielson absent — for the approval of a rate raise.

The ordinance states that within city limits the monthly water service fee per dwelling will increase from $27 to $28.50 and 1,000 gallons of water will cost $2.90 versus $2.75.

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Outside city limits, service fees saw an increase from $47 to $50 service fee per dwelling and a fee of $2.90 per 1,000 gallons of water used. Water Dispensed at the bulk water stations will be at the rate of $9.60 per 1,000 gallons.

For wastewater, residential units see a $3 increase, bringing the bill to $28. Commercial businesses will pay the same plus $1.40 per 1,000 gallons of water used over a 12,000 gallons minimum. The new septic tank waste charge in county is $0.142 per gallon and $0.280 per gallon out of county.

Mark Sollenberger, water and wastewater director, said it is getting more expensive to run the facilities, and environmental regulations won't help reverse the trend.

"Regulations are probably the biggest one, which are coming up in 2016," he said, explaining that new state laws will increase the plants operating costs.

All the rate increases will be effective Jan. 1, 2016.

Even with the rate increase, the 2016 budget shows the costs will continue to exceed revenues in both funds next year.

City charter dictates that all enterprise funds, such as water and wastewater, must be evaluated each budget season.

"We'll review this again at this time next year and we'll see," said City Manager Jim Ferree. "We just have to evaluate it on an annual basis."