Glenwood Springs utility bills going up by about 5% next year
City of Glenwood Springs customer rates for water and sewer along with electricity will increase by about 5% in the new year.
“I’m never sure there’s a great time to increase rates,” Matthew Langhorst, the city’s public works director, said in a council meeting during May 2022 when the issue was first discussed.
Electric rate increase
The tiered electrical rate increase approved by city council at the time imposed a 5.2% increase for May and an additional 5.2% increase in the new year.
“We’ve held off on this for three years after the water rates rose,” Langhorst said during the meeting explaining that trying to raise the rates then when they wanted to seemed like it would be too much for residents.
The city has not had an electric rate increase for the past seven years, Langhorst said. That is a large reason why the city has been required to increase rates twice in less than a year.
Before 2017, the city used to give away 100 KWt hours for free, but that was discontinued in 2017 which caused residents to see a small spike in their average utility rates.
If the city hadn’t raised the rates during the summer, it would have lost money, and would be subsidizing resident’s utilities. This rate increase for power in the new year leaves a small amount of extra money for capital improvements and the expense of running utility services.
“As costs increase across the board for materials, equipment, labor and more, we have to be able to keep up,” wrote public information officer Bryana Starbuck in an email.
In the presentation to council, Langhorst used his own home as his example to show what a rate increase would look like on a monetary scale for both May of 2022 and the increase in January of 2023.
For a 2,000-square-foot household of four, his average bill started at $74.86 and increased about $4 to $78.29 in May. This next increase in the new year will bring his average bill up to $82.36, as previously reported.
“For every dollar paid by customers, about $0.72 cents goes to the direct costs of purchasing wholesale green electricity (this is how much it costs us to buy the electricity) and transmission fees,” Starbuck wrote.
She added, “the remaining $0.28 cents goes toward local infrastructure, service crews, maintenance, capital improvements and management of the system.”
Water and sewer
Water and sewer rate will also increase by 5% starting Jan. 1, 2023.
This rate increase was decided on in 2021, and was postponed in 2022 after the initial increase in 2021, according to the outline in the consent agenda presented to council on Dec. 15.
“Each utility is an enterprise fund, meaning they are self-sustaining,” Starbuck wrote.
She added, “every dollar paid by customers goes directly to the cost of the utility, maintenance, operations, infrastructure investment and bonding capacity of that individual enterprise fund.”
This year, staff recommended that water rates increase 5% to help fund the 2023-2025 capital project list along with current debt service, the outline states.
The outline goes on to state that the city plans to work with GovRates, a consultant company they worked with in 2021 to complete a water and sewer rate analysis.
The city will be looking to move the fee structure from flat rate base fees to a flat rate based on meter sizing.
The city will also be looking to add additional tiers for water consumption fees and review the flat fee for sewer and see if it can be adjusted back down to make the overall monthly billing more feasible for low-use customers, the outline states.
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