The Ketchum City Council on Monday unanimously approved 4.9 percent increases for both water and sewer rates.
The increases were agreed upon after Public Works Director and City Engineer Robyn Mattison wrote recommendations to increase the rates.
In both recommendations, which can be read on the Ketchum website, Mattison wrote that the increased rates are necessary in order to fund capital improvement projects.
“We have not completed any capital improvement projects over the last two years for our water system,” Mattison said. “They keep getting pushed back year to year because the construction cost on our water mains is so high.”
Mayor Randy Hall echoed Mattison’s sentiments, agreeing that the increased rates are necessary.
Hall said, “We had to increase our rates 15 percent or 20 percent in years past. We made a decision we were going to increase 4.9 percent each year, and we’re still competitive throughout other jurisdictions in our valley. It just needs to be done to maintain the infrastructure that supports us.”
“Our property values are predicated upon delivering these essential services.”
According to the fiscal year 2013-14 budget that the City Council recently approved, a total of $1,425,143 was set aside for the water fund’s operational expenses. In Mattison’s recommendation, she wrote, “The anticipated fiscal year 2013-2014 revenue from water usage fees, including the proposed 4.9 percent increase, is $1,526,000. This indicates that approximately $108,000 of the annual revenue can be allocated to capital improvements without using reserve funds.
“In fiscal year 2012-2013, approximately $108,500 was spent from the water capital improvement fund to install or replace water meters, repair water main breaks, and to put a new roof on the Warm Springs Booster Pump Station. Over $80,000 was spent on repairing water main breaks alone.”
Mattison also wrote that the only significant capital improvement project in the upcoming fiscal year budget is replacing the aging backup generator at the Warm Springs Booster Pump Station at an estimated price of $60,000. She wrote that this project will be “critical to provide reliable and consistent service to our customers during times of power outages.”
Hall said the cost of providing water and sewage services goes up faster than inflation rates. He added that the city government also must comply with federal and environmental regulations.
“Our property values are predicated upon delivering these essential services,” Hall said in an interview. “Robyn (Mattison) is a great professional and when she wants something done, you get out of the way and support her.”
In the 2012-13 fiscal year, the flat monthly sewer rate was $22.56. For the upcoming fiscal year, the rate will be $23.67 as a result of the increase.
Mattison’s recommendation for higher sewer rates stated that wastewater revenues are expected to reach $1,385,500 in the 2013-14 fiscal year, generating $48,000 more than the year before. In addition to Ketchum’s revenues, the Sun Valley Water and Sewer District will provide $812,000 towards operational and capital improvement costs.
The total cost of wastewater expenditures in the fiscal year 2013-14 budget is $2,566,541.
“The deficit (approximately $347,000) in FY 2013-14 will be covered by the Wastewater Fund Reserve account or Wastewater Capital Improvement Fund Reserve account,” Mattison wrote.
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