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Glenwood water, sewer bills rise again this year

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. For the second year in a row, rates are going up for Glenwood Springs water and sewer customers.City Council on Thursday increased rates as part of a multi-year plan to bring them in line with the city’s cost for providing those services.Council soon may be looking at raising electric rates for the same reason.For now, it decided to raise water rates by 10 percent and sewer rates by 20 percent – the same amounts it boosted those rates last year. The rate changes take effect in April.Water customers will be charged $8.47 a month, along with $1.45 per thousand gallons for the first 5,500 gallons, with higher consumption rates for higher usages.City residents will pay a monthly minimum bill of $25.56 for sewer, up from $21.30, also with higher rates for higher usage.City manager Jeff Hecksel said an electrical system rate study has been completed. He’s anticipating the city may implement a small increase in the electricity rate, with no immediate need for further increases.The electrical system has produced surpluses over the years and hasn’t required rate increases, but Hecksel said those surpluses are diminishing. The city isn’t trying to generate surpluses in its utilities, but simply wants them to break even, he said.The water and sewer rate hikes have been aimed at making those utilities pay their own way rather than continue to rely on city sales tax revenues as well. Hecksel said more rate increases are planned in future years, although the plan will be reassessed each year to make sure they are warranted.A consultant last year recommended 10 percent water rate hikes from 2006-08, no rate hikes the next two years, and then possibly another 10 percent increase in 2012. It suggested 20 percent annual increases in sewer rates through 2010, with 15 percent increases the following two years.The city is looking to rate increases to help soften the blow of the upcoming expense of relocating the sewer plant to West Glenwood. Last year it was estimated that could cost $25 million, but area construction prices have risen rapidly since then.”The wastewater treatment plant is a very large expense and it’s not something that’s optional,” Hecksel said.The city had pushed back its target date for that project until 2012 because of the expense involved and the excessive impact on sewer rates that would result. However, Hecksel said state health officials hope to see the project start a year earlier because of concerns about the quality of water discharged from the current plant.He said he is not aware of the city having received any notices of state violations.”But I think we have to improve the quality because there are concerns,” he said.Also Thursday, council decided to charge a minimum of $57.05 a month for out-of-town sewer users not on the city’s water system. The city doesn’t know their rate of water consumption, so it has no way of determining and charging for higher sewer usage. But it also is assuming their homes are bigger and use more water than homes that pay the in-town minimum. Council also is attempting to charge those users about 50 percent more than they would pay if they lived in town.Few such out-of-town customers exist now, but the city is anticipating eventually providing sewer service to hundreds of homes expected to be built outside city limits up Four-Mile Road.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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