PRWID's Board Members Consider Water, Sewer Service Rate Increases
|Janet Cassady, a two-year resident of the Circle K subdivision clears snow from the front of her house Tuesday. The developer of the project appeared before the PRWID board Tuesday night to get clearance for completion of the phase 3 subdivision near the Cassady home. |
A final decision on how much to raise water and sewer rates was tabled Tuesday night until the Feb. 19 meeting of the Price River Water Improvement District board.
Cody Deeter from Lewis Young Robertson & Burningham presented board members with several possible scenarios for the district's financial future. All but one of the five options were based on raising the monthly cost of water and sewer services.
"We looked at what options were possible for getting the district on a more stable financial footings," Deeter said.
An approximate increase of $3 for each service lay at the core of four of the proposals.
The fifth one was to maintain the status quo which was quickly dismissed by the board members.
Tuesday's presentation was precipitated by several discussions at PRWID meetings about debt service, pending bond payments and the need to shave personnel and equipment replacements to balance the 2008 budget.
According to the materials from LYRB the district has outstanding debt of $12,341,290 which includes payments for approximately nine bonds issued over a 15 year period.
The district is presently facing a $860,000 payment which is due by April and is only expecting about 45 percent of the total to come in from property taxes.
With the debt service clock ticking loudly the board members reviewed the options Tuesday night and admitted that a rate increase was inevitable and the main decision would be how much and when to implement the higher fees.
Deeter's proposals involved increasing rates by $2 in 2008 and additional $1 in 2009.
While the fee hikes remained constant, three of the four options included restructuring bonds and extending the length of time for repayment.
However, it was also learned that any of the restructuring efforts would cost the district from $68,800 to $665,666.
By the end of the discussion, option one was the preferred choice as it did not include any additional costs to the district.
Boardmember Mike Dalpiaz said that he wanted to fully digest the proposal before voting on exactly how to proceed. He seemed to be weighing the possibility of a higher increase that would come all at once instead over two fiscal years.
"We are going to get beat up on any increase we might want to do it all at once," he said.
Dalpiaz, who is the mayor of Helper, and Wellington's Mayor Karl Houskeeper also told their fellow boardmembers that they would need to bring back the concept of the fee hikes to their cities before making a final decision as well.
PRWID's sewer rates vary according locale. Price residents pay $17.23; Helper residents $15.83; Wellington $15.87 and residents outside city limits are charged $27. Monthly water fees run about $23 across the board, according to PRWID staff.
Rates would go up about 6.5 percent if the $3 hike is adopted.
If the board decides to go forward with the fee hikes at the Feb. 19 meeting, a public hearing will then have to be scheduled. The public can expect to be heard sometime in March.
In other business the board decided to hold a closed executive session before the next meeting to allow department heads to share what they would like to see in the new district manager. The board is exploring putting together a new job description for the district's top administrative position which has been held by Phil Palmer for the past 30 years.
Palmer announced in January that he was ready to retire and gave the board a May 1 date for his action. Boardmembers then decided to revisit the requirements for the position and also to look at whether Assistant District Manager Jeffrey Richens might just be moved right into the position.
PRWID's board meets the first and third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at 265 South Fairgrounds Road. For more information call Jeffrey R. Richens at 637-6350.