TREMONTON – By Jessica Tanner – May 9, 2020
Recent changes to water rates could affect how Tremonton residents choose to water their lawns this summer. After much deliberation on May 5, the Tremonton City Council decided to raise the base rate for culinary from $10 to $13. They also decreased secondary water by 25 cents per 1,000 gallons in order to make it cheaper than culinary.
Three rate structures are in place and will have a fixed base metering system, allowing the city to read data in real time. There is a rate for those who only have access to culinary water, another for those who are connected to secondary, as well as those who have secondary as an option, but choose not to use it.
Tremonton City has grown significantly over the years and with that growth public representatives have seen a need for more water. The decision to pursue secondary water was made a couple years ago and areas with the most rooftops were selected since the city would be required to bond for this long-term, multimillion-dollar project.
Service areas 1 and 2 already had some infrastructure in place and were finished last year. The council decided to move forward with service area 3, which covers the core area of the city. With the completion of those phases 991 homes could be hooked into the secondary system by the end of this year.
Rates were put in place last season for those in service areas 1 and 2, but the council received backlash as residents felt blindsided by the fact that secondary water was costing them more than culinary. Many meetings and open houses were held for citizens to voice their concerns.
After gaining feedback, the council decided changes needed to be made. However, they are still required to meet their obligation to the debt service ratio and a certain rate of return to pay for depreciation in the water systems.
Leading up to the decision made on May 5, the council had several meetings to go over numbers with Public Works Director Paul Fulgham and Finance Director Curtis Roberts to discuss potential rates.
“We are looking to satisfy our debt service coverage, which is a minimum of 125% of our operating revenues. A 2% to 4% rate of return is a comfortable range. The closer to 4% we are the longer the rate will last,” Roberts said.
“At the end of this year we will have more reliable information. I think we all want to come up with a perfect number, but we are not going to. It will have to be an adjustment as time goes on,” Councilmember Lyle Vance said.
Councilmember Lyle Holmgren agreed.
“We need to get ourselves grounded on something. We are going to do this for six months to get our feet on the ground and see where things are going,” Holmgren said.
“That puts the rate of return down a bit (1.8%), but that is not going to break us in one year. We can run it for six months and see what happens, just remember weather will impact this a ton,” added Roberts.
The base rate for culinary jumped from $10 to $13 with the usage remaining the same. However the tiers have been changed. The first tier went from 0 to 7,000 gallons to 0 to 10,000 gallons.
Fulgham said this helps those with larger families to not be impacted as much. We adjusted the tiers to match the 30,000-gallon outdoor usage tiers in secondary.
For more information on those different rates and tiers see the attached chart.
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“If you have secondary in front of your home and do not choose to use it the first 10,000 gallons is the same, but everything for outdoor use is going to be more or less doubled from May to October. Our goal is to get our city on secondary. If we do not have an incentive to do it then no one will. We know culinary is easier to water with,” Fulgham said.
This rate should incentivize individuals to hook to the secondary system. Those who do not use much water outside or have their own source will not be impacted as much, but will be required to pay the $10 base rate.
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“This year we are hoping for a better picture of our secondary consumption, but we probably won’t get a really good picture until next year after those in service area 3 have time to hook onto the system and get their usage going,” Fulgham added.
For questions or to receive more information contact the Tremonton City offices at 435-257-9500.