Water, sewer rates to increase — but when?
By Ben Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
February 19, 2013
The town of Jackson has several options to keep its dwindling water and sewer funds financially afloat for the long term, but one thing seems certain: Rates will go up this spring.
Town council members will discuss at a 3 p.m. meeting today whether to bump up residential utility rates — 50 cents per 1,000 gallons of water and 65 cents per 1,000 gallons of sewer waste.
An average homeowner using 6,000 gallons of water each month would see their utility bills grow by nearly $7 a month, to about $37.
The town’s finance and public works administrators are recommending the changes. Otherwise, they say, the utilities fund will become insolvent, according to documents prepared for the meeting.
Town leaders have been concerned about the fiscal future of Jackson’s water and sewer reserves for years. The town’s budget estimates the working capital for each fund could be depleted by 2017 without rate increases.
The proposed changes are part of a series of hikes town leaders have already put in place or plan for the future. Eventually rates could increase to $2.34 per 1,000 gallons of water and $2.55 per 1,000 gallons of sewer use.
Council members could vote now to allow the built-in increases to begin in 2014 and 2015, or they could wait until then to decide.
The last jump in usage rates occurred during the summer of 2012 and resulted in roughly 50-cent in-creases to residents’ water and sewer bills. In January 2012, the monthly base rate increased by about $4 for both.
Still, town officials maintain that Jackson’s rates are unusually low.
With monthly utilities charges now just around $31, Jackson ranks below many other ski resort towns and Wyoming cities, according to documents prepared by town staff for the meeting.
For example, residents in Aspen are charged $35, those in Cody pay $45 and people in Park City, Utah, fork over more than $80 per month for utilities.