Carson moves forward with possible utility fee hike

The average Carson City water and sewer customers could see a 5.5 percent increase in utility rates as early as July 1 as the city moves forward with approving a new rate schedule, officials said Monday.

Instigating the first possible rate increases in 10 years, city supervisors directed staff last week to begin the process of introducing a new fee schedule proposed by the city's Utility Advisory Committee.

Staff is inviting customers to a public workshop to be held at 6 p.m. March 31 at the Carson City Community Center to introduce the new rates. Public questions and comments will be taken, answered and forwarded on to supervisors in April, said Tom Hoffert, utilities operations manager.

If all goes as planned, staff will present an ordinance revision to the board by April 3, when a public hearing will be held. Another hearing will take place at the board's following meeting April 17.

Supervisors can change the date the new fees go into effect, but staff proposes a start date of July 1.

The Utility Advisory Committee approved the rates Feb. 21. Committee representatives and city staff presented supervisors with the plan March 6.

"We thought this was fair for many reasons," said Assemblyman Ron Knecht, R-Carson City, who was utility committee chairman. "It was in the realm of reasonable outcomes."

The advisory committee, formed in December 2001, was made up of residents representing different sectors of utility users.

The committee proposes:

-- A 10 percent decrease to the service/meter charge, and all rates equalize before any new adjustments.

-- A 21.47 percent increase in consumption after all classes are adjusted to the same tier structure.

-- Elimination of the fire hydrant/fire service charge.

-- The state's service/meter charge not be reduced until a new contract for consumption charges is approved.

-- Mandatory annual reviews and adjustments.

If adopted, Carson will continue to have one of the lowest utility rates in the area, Knecht said.

Mayor Ray Masayko said the proposal looked reasonable and fair.

"This is a blend of an economical and a political decision," Masayko said.

Estimating the change at his own house, Masayko said he expects to pay $10.35 more for water during summer months.

The city has not changed rates since at least 1993, Hoffert said. The new rate structure would allow the city to make small, incremental increases annually, he said.


What: Public workshop on new utility rates

When: 6 to 9 p.m. March 31

Where: Sierra Room, Carson City Community Center, 851 E. William St.


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