Glenwood Springs utility rates up for fourth year |

Glenwood Springs utility rates up for fourth year

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” City Council adopted the 2009 utility rate increases for city of Glenwood Springs water and wastewater customers.

Customers can expect a 10 percent increase on their monthly water bill, while their wastewater bill will increase 20 percent. The increases will take effect in May.

The rate increases are the fourth in as many years designed to create revenue to pay for capital improvement projects like the relocation of the city’s new wastewater treatment plant, as proposed by the 2006 Water and Wastewater Cost of Service Analysis and Rate Study.

“The challenge at that time was ensuring that the city had adequate capital funds for capital improvement programs for both of those utilities,” said Glenwood City Manager Jeff Hecksel. “To make sure that the infrastructure for the utilities were sound.”

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The city undergoes an annual report to determine if the 2006 projections are still sufficient enough to pay for the projects while still sustaining enough revenue for maintenance and operating costs.

According to a memo from Glenwood Public Works Director Robin Millyard, the 2009 review of the Utility Operating Results Report suggested the 2008 revenue was “less than projected” and that operating expenses “were higher than projected.” The report recommended to increase the rates above the 10 percent increase. However, city staff and council agreed to stay the course with the 2006 analysis.

Hecksel told City Council Thursday that “It is reasonable to continue on the course with the 2006 plan.”

“What was suggested in the analysis that was done would have provided for a 17 percent increase,” Hecksel said. “We are staying the course and it will be a 10 percent increase.”

However, Hecksel said that if the city continues to be behind in 2009, an additional year of rate increases may be necessary for water customers.

On the wastewater side, Millyard explained that the study found the 2006 study of 20 percent rate increases through 2010 and 15 percent increases for 2011 and 2012 is close to the target.

However, the 2009 draft report stated that by 2011, revenues were not expected to be sufficient to cover projected operating expenses and debt of the estimated $37.5 million wastewater plant. According to the report an additional 14 percent rate increase for 2009 through 2011, for Glenwood sewer customers would be necessary to cover the estimated shortfall.

However, City Council and staff didn’t think that now was the time to push for such drastic increases.

“The reality is that we’ve got a major project under way which we’ve got no choice and we need to build,” said Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen. “We are going to be looking at rate increases to fund that.”

Christensen said that he is hopeful that bids for construction of the wastewater plant will come in lower than the $37.5 million estimated price, and expects more grants to help cover some of the costs.

“The public works people have been successful in getting some grants, and we are going to continue to get more of those,” he said. “So that in the later years maybe we won’t have to use the maximum increases that we’ve talked about.”

Contact John Gardner: 384-9114

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