City Council considers increase to water, sewer rates

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Whitefish City Council is set next week to consider whether to approve an increase in sewer and water rates.

The proposed rate increases are necessary to cover the cost of service, and provide for necessary capital improvements, according to the city. Council on Sept. 16 is set to hold a public hearing and vote on the rate increase.

The standard residential service for water is set to increase .4% or about 24 cents per month, from $61.32 to $61.56.

The standard residential service for sewer is set to increase 2.9% or about $1.91 per month from $64.77 to $66.88.

This is for customers inside city limits with a 3/4-inch meter and usage of 6,000 gallons of water and sewer per month. Rate increases do vary on size of meter, location and usage.

Customers with a landscape or irrigation meter with a usage of 10,000 gallons per month are expected to see a rate increase of 4.3%, or about $2.10 per month, from $48.80 to $50.90.

The city is in the midst of two large projects related to its utility services. It is expected later this year to begin construction of a $19 million new wastewater treatment plant set to be operational in 2021. The city is also designing a project to increase its water treatment capacity and storage at an estimated cost of $17 million.

The proposed increases come after the city in 2015 completed a comprehensive water and wastewater rate study, and the first rate increase from the study went into effect in October 2016.

The study included a Cost of Service Analysis that measured the cost attributable to each user class against the amount of revenue provided by each user class, and the results were used to align costs and revenue.

Since the rate study, significant capital needs for the water plant have arisen and final funding has been established for the wastewater treatment plant, according to Public Works Director Craig Workman, and the city has worked with its engineer AE2S to update the models used to adjust rates.

Rate adjustments are projected for water service through 2021 and for wastewater service through 2026. Though each rate adjustment is considered year-by-year.

The city provides water service to about 3,250 residential customers and 320 commercial customers within the city limits. It also provides service to 68 residential and seven commercial customers outside the city limits.

Wastewater service is provided to about 3,530 customers in the city and about 106 outside the city.

For more information, visit the city’s website at www.cityofwhitefish.org or call the city finance department at 863-2462.

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