Carson City utility rate hikes up for discussion Thursday

Rate increases for water, sewer and drainage services will be reviewed at Carson City’s governing board meeting Thursday, and their impact will be discussed.

In addition, the Carson City Board of Supervisors will tackle a plan to dedicate 1.25 percent of the capital improvement general fund budget to public art.

The issues are on what is called first reading, the initial stage before final passage at a subsequent meeting. In other words, this is one of the stops in the decision-making process during which public testimony is sought and encouraged before the board finalizes the proposals as city ordinances.

Both the rate hikes and the public art plans moved through processes in which previous opportunities were given for public input. The water and sewer rates, which will decrease for a few and increase for many, were vetted in preliminary form after a rate-revision study for city government by a consulting firm.

That study projected annual boosts of up to 6.5 percent for water service and 17.5 percent for sewage, but at that point the preliminary design awaited putting it into final ordinance language for the board’s consideration.

The consultants also said they worked to shift subsidies that a class of users may have enjoyed previously so there will be more equity across all classes, according to testimony.

Businesses also will be affected, and Thursday actions are expected to include adoption of language acknowledging such business impact for the water, sewer and storm water drainage users. But it is the ordinances on the rates themselves that are on first reading, which may spur testimony for the board to consider before acting later in September.

Rate hikes are geared to phase in over five years, providing an underpinning for bond financing. The largest impact would be for wastewater-treatment upgrades. The overall need for wastewater/sewer and water needs will reach close to $50 million, city Utility Manager David Bruketta estimated in July.

As for the public art plan, it was discussed previously by both the city’s Cultural Commission and Parks and Recreation Commission in public meetings.

On Thursday’s agenda, the public art question is set to come up at 11 a.m. and the testimony on the utility rates in question should start after lunch, around 1:30 p.m. The board, as usual, begins its meeting in the Sierra Room at the Community Center at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.


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