Comprehensive study of Brighton’s utilties approved to gain insight into future needs

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON – The city of Brighton’s Utilities Department is moving forward with a comprehensive rate and fee study for utilities services. During its April 15 meeting, council voted unanimously to allocate $63,800 in funding for Willdan Financial Services to complete the study. 

According to Assistant Utilities Manager Sarah Borgers, the need for a comprehensive rate and fee study came out of a utilities business plan that council adopted last year. She said the goals of the rate study are three-fold.

“The first is obviously to make sure we are financially able to meet our nine goals in the business plan that council adopted last fall,” she said. “In addition to that, we want to promote fair and equitable rates and fees for our customer categories and promote and incentivise water conservation.” 

Borgers said the study will take many factors into account, which will include reviewing historical usage data based on the type of customer, completing a forecast and reviewing the city’s infrastructure needs. 

She said making sure the department is adequately funded so it can continue to provide services to customers is one of the department’s biggest struggles, especially when in comes to infrastructure. She added that the consultants will also look at whether the city’s fees for customers are adequate for its needs, and that their findings will be taken into account when considering future rates. 

Finance Director Dan Frelund said the comprehensive study wasn’t included in the 2014 budget when it was put together last fall and that the budget amendment is being taken out of the fund balance. Although Willdan Financial Services are proposing they can complete the study for $58,000, Frelund said they’re including an additional 10 percent to “include any functionality that may occur during the project phase.”

Borgers anticipates the study will be completed around August or September. She said the goal is to get the study done in time for it to be included in the city’s budget process for 2015.