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Slight uptick in city's water rates planned

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By Crystal Nelson

BRIGHTON — City of Brighton water and sewer customers will likely see an increase in utility rates next year. City Council received its first look at proposed increases during its Nov. 26 study session.

If the proposed ordinance passes, it means fixed-rate charges would increase by a total of $1.90 each month, with water increasing 62 cents to $12.98, wastewater increasing by $1 to $9.15, and the storm drainage fee increasing 28 cents to $2.12. Customers would also pay 21 cents — or 5 percent — more for every 1,000 gallons used. 

According to data provided by Utilities Director Jim Landeck, this would mean an estimated monthly increase of $2.13 for one person using 3,000 gallons a month, $4.45 for a family of four using about 12,000 gallons a month and $5.09 for a family with three teenagers using 15,000 gallons a month. 

Landeck said the proposal is a “no frills” rate increase.

“We are talking about, pretty much, a stop-gap measure here,” he said. “This is going to get us to a point beginning Jan. 1 where we have a balanced budget.” 

According to Landeck, the 5-percent increase for water usage would generate around $309,000 — approximately what the city needs to balance the budget. He also said the 62-cent fixed-rate increase for water is expected to generate $92,000, but that the city will still fall short of providing revenue for its debt services. As a result, the utilities department will be contributing a $40,000 subsidy from its operations fund to cover it. 

Landeck said the only reason the wastewater fixed-rate increase exists is to keep up with the buy-in for the Metro Wastewater Reclamation District’s Northern Treatment Plant. He pointed out the department is not proposing an increase to the wastewater usage fee, which will remain at $4.24 per 1,000 gallons used. 

He said the combination of the annual fixed rate and existing base will get the city just over half way to its debt service payment of $786,000 next year. The city will be subsidizing about $261,000 from its operations fund to cover the payment. 

In addition to the rate increases, the city will be conducting a rate analysis to assess the department’s capital needs and determine where the funding will come from as well as what consumer rates should be. 

The first reading of the ordinance went before council at its Dec. 3 council meeting, after press deadline.