Notice filed to raise water rates - Tucson Local Media: Pima Pinal

Notice filed to raise water rates

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Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 11:00 pm

Water customers in Oro Valley may experience higher bills in the near future.

In what has become a near-annual ritual, the Oro Valley Town Council on Oct. 6 approved a notice of intent to raise water fees.

"I'm still concerned that we're marching down the path to increased base rates," Councilman Bill Garner told Oro Valley Water Utility Director Philip Saletta.

Water rates have been raised every year save for one since 1996.

Garner expressed concerns the town would begin charging steeper base rates for water service in addition to the added cost per 1,000 gallons of water.

The town currently has four tiers of billing based on water usage and charges a $13.91 base fee for service. The fee proposal would change the base rate to $14.19, and add a few pennies to the per-1,000 gallon rate in each of four billing tiers.

An increase to the groundwater preservation fee was also suggested. The change would add 20 cents to the fee, bringing the total to 75 cents per 1,000 gallons.

The overall changes would add about 5.6 percent to most residential bills.

Saletta told the council that the changes were designed to keep the water utility from becoming a burden on the town's general fund, the portion of the budget used to pay for operations and salaries. The water utility operates from an enterprise fund as a self-sufficient department. Its revenue comes from payments for water service.

Saletta further explained that the annually revised fees were intended to prevent customers from experiencing "rate shock." To that end, if a rate increase meets with council approval, the average residential water customer would see a monthly increase of about $2.06.

The request is a procedural move the water utility must request and the council approve before moving forward with rate changes.

The council plans to hold a study session on the rate increase Oct. 14. A public hearing and vote on the issue is planned for Nov. 18. If the council approves the increase, the new rates would take effect on Dec. 19.

Changes to tier-rates for water

The Oro Valley Water Utility charges customers based on water usage. Customers are billed on a per-1,000 gallon rate. The amount of water used determines what billing tier customers will be in.

Tier 1 — up to 7,000 gallons

$2.18 current     $2.20 proposed

Tier 2 — 7,001-16,000 gallons

$2.95 current     $2.99 proposed

Tier 3 — 16,001-32,000 gallons

$3.95 current     $4.03 proposed

Tier 4 — more than 32,000 gallons

$5.25 current     $5.38 proposed

Source: Oro Valley Water Utility

History of water rates in Oro Valley

FY 1997     14.1 percent increase

FY 1998     3.7 percent increase

FY 1999     8.5 percent increase

FY 2000     3.8 percent increase

FY 2001     4.5 percent increase

FY 2002     5.5 percent increase

FY 2003     6.5 percent increase

FY 2004     8.4 percent increase

FY 2005     3 percent increase

FY 2006     no increase

FY 2007     5.8 percent increase

FY 2008     10 percent increase

FY 2009     8.1 percent increase

Source: Oro Valley Water Utility

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