Idaho Springs is considering a 5% rise in water and wastewater rates for Idaho Springs utility customers this year.
The rate increase plan was approved for further discussion by a 6-1 vote with Jim Clark voting no at the Idaho Springs City Council meeting on Jan. 11.
During the meeting, Mayor Mike Hillman said the city’s last utility cost analysis recommended increasing rates by 9% this year.
“We decided, when we were doing the budget, to go just 5% to not take as much this year with so much going on,” Hillman said.
A work session to discuss this matter further has tentatively been scheduled for 6 p.m. on Jan. 25. The second reading and public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Feb. 8.
The 5% increase is proposed for both the usage fee rates for water and sewer, as well as the service fees that apply to all properties hooked up to city services. The average three-person household could expect to pay around $66 more a year under the new rates.
If approved, the rates would be effective April 1, 2021, and the increase would be reflected on the bimonthly invoice issued on June 1.
The city’s estimates show that to keep up with water infrastructure costs, additional rate increases may be advised in future years as well. City Administrator Andy Marsh said that any rate increases in future years would have to be discussed and debated in future year’s city council budget discussions.
Also at the regular council meeting, there was some good news. November sales tax revenues totaled $10,000 higher than the 2019 receipts.
“To hear that is unbelievable, but we should be very thankful,” Hillman said.
There was also an update on the city’s search for a new police chief, with city staff reporting that the list of applicants has been narrowed to nine semifinalists. That list is to be further winnowed down to “four or five finalists to interview with the Mayor and City Council in early February,” according to Marsh.
Water study approved
Idaho Springs hasn’t had a comprehensive water resource study done since 1992. To get more up to date, city staff requested $25,000 to hire HRS Water Consultants Inc. to conduct an updated study.
The vote to approve the money for the study passed 7-0.
The study’s scope will include looking at the hydrology of Clear Creek, as well as looking at the effects on regional drought.
“The timing seems to be good on this, seeing as how we seem to be drying out around here,” Councilman Bob Bowland said.
Read more:: Water and sewer rates may rise for Idaho Springs