Hayden: Water rate increase approved on first reading

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From the Steamboat Pilot & Today (Blythe Terrell):

The Hayden Town Council approved the first reading of an ordinance that would raise base rates 19 percent, to $19 per month for most customers and $11.40 per month for seniors. Usage rates would not change. Town Manager Russ Martin and some council members drew a distinction between the rate increase and water system losses.

Resident Gordon Dowling said he was frustrated the town would raise rates when it could be losing as much as 30 percent of its water a year, according to analyses. “This 30 percent kills me,” he said.

But Martin said the town’s water fund was in debt about $90,000 a year without tap fees. Even if 100 percent of the town’s water was accounted for, that debt still would exist, he said. Martin laid it out this way: The town produces about 100 million gallons of water a year. The production cost — without staff costs, which would be stable regardless of production — is $52,000 a year. A 30 percent water loss would cost the town $15,000 a year, Martin said. The fund still would be $75,000 in debt. Much of that comes from the $115,000-a-year loan the town is paying on the plant. As written, the rate increase would produce only $25,000 to $30,000, so the town still would have to cover the rest of gap out of its general fund.

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