Waterrates could change in 2008

Published on Thu, Mar 15, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Water rates could change in 2008

By Tara Nelson

Charges for new water connections could increase next year, pending the results of a study initiated by the city of Blaine.
In a regular meeting of Blaine City Council Monday, March 12, members approved a $23,000 contract with FSC Group, a San Francisco-based research and consulting firm, to undertake a comprehensive evaluation for water rates both within and outside Blaine city limits.

Public works director Steve Banham said the study, which was last completed 10 years ago, is necessary to ensure general facilities charges (GFCs) and monthly rates adequately fund major planned infrastructure improvements such as the Lighthouse Point reclamation facility, scheduled to begin construction in 2008.

“Up until this point, we’ve been making adjustments based on the consumer price index (CPI),” he said. “(Rates) have remained unchanged for quite a while so it’s time for us to look at them and make sure they’re recovering our actual operating costs.”

Banham said while he was unsure if the study will result in actual rate increases, the majority of any cost increase will likely be borne by new developments rather than existing ratepayers.

“We’re not asking existing ratepayers to pay for new growth,” he said. “But we do want to make sure they pay for their fair share of the cost for replacement and repair of facilities that have reached the end of their life cycle. We want to make sure we’re collecting the right amount of money from the right people.”

The study will include a capital funding analysis, a rate forecast, and a retail general facilities charge (GFC) analysis.

The current fee for new water hook-ups is $2,242 inside city limits and $3,457 outside city limits. Monthly user fees are based on the size of the meter and the volume of the water used.

Banham said he expects the study to be completed by the end of 2007. At that time, he said public works will conduct a public hearing during a work session of city council.