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Covering Flagstaff’s Utility Operational Costs

 

The City retained Willdan Financial Services to prepare a long-term financial plan and rate and fee study for the water, wastewater and reclaimed water utilities. The purpose was to ensure the utilities have sufficient revenues to meet their operational, capital and debt service obligations. Rates are set proportionate to the costs of providing utility service to each customer class. As part of this rate study, City staff facilitated dialogue with the community at several Water Commission and Public meetings. During these meetings, the Commission made recommendations to be incorporated into the study where appropriate. This rate study documents the findings, analyses and recommendations of the comprehensive rate and fee study effort and can be found the City of Flagstaff Utilities website and is on file with the City Clerk.

 

The City desires rates and fees that fully fund operations, maintenance, and present and future capital costs for plant expansions, as well as distribution systems and collection system capacity, infrastructure rehabilitation, enhancements, and expansion. The City is facing several challenges to continuing its high-quality operations. Utility revenues are not keeping pace with increasing operational and capital costs. Customer account growth has slowed to less than a 0.5 percent annual rate. A prolonged drought has necessitated the need to procure additional water supply through drilling of new wells. Utility infrastructure is aging and must be replaced soon. In fact, during the course of this financial study, eight water mains ruptured, resulting in large losses of water and other costs. Therefore, the purpose of the rate and fee financial study is to provide recommendations on changes to the current utility rate and fee structures to meet these challenges.

The City Council will be considering these utility rate changes in August and the proposed rates are scheduled to go into effect in January of 2011. The Mayor and Council wish to express their appreciation for all who had input in the presentations and especially the Water Commission, which spent months and many hours refining the rate study. No one likes to raise rates for city services and the City Council raises rates only when dependability is threatened and the need is justified. FBN

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