Moab City Manager Donna Metzler said the fee hike, which will average approximately 5.5 percent for city sewer customers, is the first the city has implemented in several years.
“The city actually reduced sewer rates in 1999 by a considerable amount,” she said. Metzler said the City Council has always been “very conscious” of keeping rates low. According to a document prepared by city staff, Moab currently has one of the lowest sewer rates in the state.
Metzler said the fee increase is being done in anticipation of a series of upgrades to the city-owned wastewater treatment plant.
“It’s important for the city to have rates that can support debt service for future upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant,” Metzler said.
In order for the city to qualify for low interest or no interest loans from the state, the sewer rates cannot be too low, Metzler said.
“If [the rate] is low, it doesn’t show enough local contribution toward the cost of the project,” she said. “We’re moving toward a new bond here in the next couple of years. It’s important to make sure those rates are providing enough revenue into the system to support not only the system, but the bond.”
The actual increased dollar amount that will be charged to each customer will vary based on water usage, she said. That is because sewer rates are calculated based on a customer's water usage.
“It depends on how much water you use whether or not it’s less than that or more than that. ...” Metzler said. “Some users will have a lower increase. Some users will have a higher increase.”
Metzler said the rate increase will not affect users outside of the city at this point, even though the wastewater treatment plant provides sewer service to portions of Grand County as well. She said the Grand Water and Sewer Service Agency (GWSSA) has been informed of the increase in the sewer rates.
“I think it’s important that we not adopt that [increase] until Grand Water and Sewer has a chance to see that information, pass it onto their customers and then proceed,” Metzler said, adding that changes to GWSSA sewer rates probably will not take effect until September. City customers could see the increase take effect as early as July.
According to Moab city staff, the increase “will provide approximately $29,000 in additional revenue to the Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund.”
Editor's Note: This version clarifies that the rate increase will apply to city sewer services only. Water rates will not be increased. The rates for city customers could take effect as early as July, but GWSSA customers may not see an increase until September.