City council approves 20 percent sewer rate hike
by Rose Egelhoff
The Times-Independent
Apr 13, 2017 | 2212 views | 0 0 comments | 142 142 recommendations | email to a friend | print

As of July, Moab residents can expect to pay more on their monthly sewer bills. At a special meeting on April 4, Moab City Council voted 4-0 to increase sewer rates over the next five years to pay for future infrastructure investments, including the new Moab sewer plant.

Council members approved a resolution to increase rates by up to 20 percent for both commercial and residential users, but the final amount of the rate increase will be determined in the coming month.

The sewer rate adjustment had to be passed by April 11 to secure financing for the new sewer treatment plant, said Moab City Manager David Everitt.

“In order to ... close on the bond that’s going to help finance the construction of the wastewater treatment plant, the Department of Environmental Quality at the state level was requiring us to have already adopted the new rates prior to the bond closing,” Everitt said.

The rate changes are based on a sewer rate study by the engineer consulting firm Bowen-Collins and Associates. The study was completed in February but because the cost for building the waste treatment plant have risen, city officials asked Bowen-Collins to update the study. Everitt said he expects the updated sewer rate study to be completed within a month.

The rates approved on April 4 are not necessarily final, said city council member Kyle Bailey. Residential users may not see the full 20 percent hike in rates in July.

“Rates will be adjusted as we get our engineering study in,” Bailey said.

Everitt said the city is looking at adjusting costs for commercial service versus residential users.

“We most likely will be coming back to the council later in the spring to adopt another rate ... that would address more directly some of the concerns that commercial entities, particularly hotels and overnight rentals, aren’t necessarily paying their fair share yet for sewer rates,” Everitt said.

Council member Heila Ershadi said the city wants the final sewer rate structure to reward conservation while keeping in mind that any increase will be difficult for people who earn typical wages in Moab.

“We want to be sure that we have the revenue that we need and that we’re doing that in a way that is fair,” Ershadi said. “We can’t hold the loan up. No one wants to see that sewer plant delayed a day. We are really happy that the plant is currently in compliance and we want to get the new one built as soon as possible so that the transition is as smooth as possible to the new plant.”

Council members Kyle Bailey, Tawny Knutson-Boyd, Kalen Jones and Heila Ershadi unanimously approved the decision.

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