Stormwater hike headed to Carson City supervisors

The Utility Finance Oversight Committee is recommending the Carson City Board of Supervisors approve an increase in stormwater rates phased in over three years.

The committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend an across-the-board rate hike of 25 percent starting in July, at the start of the city’s 2018 fiscal year, with 35 percent increases in each of the two subsequent years.

That would mean single-family homeowners would see their monthly rates go from $4.38 currently to $5.48 in the first year, $7.40 in the second year and $9.99 thereafter.

A commercial user’s rates would go from $31.51 today to $39.39, $53.18 and $71.79.

The five types of ratepayers also includes multi-family, public property and manufacturing.

The goal is to raise additional revenue for a 10-year capital improvement plan (CIP) without using debt financing to pay for it.

“We’re paying a lot of money right now for debt service,” David Bruketta, utility manager, Public Works, told the committee.

In fiscal year 2017, the storm water management program will spend $568,000 on debt service and $275,000 on capital improvements.

The proposed CIP includes storm drain work throughout the city, including $2 million on Carson Street between 5th and Stewart streets, where recent storms resulted in flooding in the Carson Mall parking lot, and $1.1 million for the Empire Ranch area, where several homes were flooded this winter, and smaller projects such as $85,000 for channel berms at Carson Street and Nye Lane, where water ended up crossing the roadway.

“This capital improvement program is sort of a drop in the bucket,” said Bruce Scott, a committee member.

Darren Schulz, Public Works director, said the city could spend two to three times the $9.7 million plan, but the proposed storm water projects would result in significant improvements.

A small portion of the additional money would go to operations and maintenance, which city staff said is needed to stay compliant with certain federal programs and rating systems that help keep down flood insurance rates for property owners.

Another objective for the money raised by the proposed rate hike is to enable the storm water fund to meet financial goals set by the supervisors.

Those financial standards were created for the water, sewer and storm water funds, but in 2013 the board raised water and sewer rates without a comparable increase in storm water rates.

“I’m concerned how this hits the average person who is having problems paying their bill,” said Committee Chair Ande Engleman. “I have no doubt about the need, my concern is how we’re doing it.”

Staff initially suggested a two-year bump in rates, for single-family homes from $4.38 to $6.13 to $8.58, but Engleman wanted a more gradual rise, especially in the first year when bill payers were getting the final increase in their water and sewer rates.

In the end, the committee agreed to a three-year phased in approach that raised more money for the storm water program.

The committee also voted to recommend the board approve the proposed 2018 budgets for water, sewer and storm water.


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