Though completion of the city's pressurized irrigation system is still a good half-year away, residents already have something to whet their appetites - connection fees and service charge proposals.
In order to comply with guidelines from the State Board of Water Resources, city officials have calculated estimated connection costs, as well as monthly service charge fees, after some preliminary engineering surveys have been made (see accompanying box).Proposed rates hinge on the condition that connections to the system use 1-inch piping. Connections with larger pipe sizes would require higher connection and service fees.
According to a city resolution establishing the rates, those fees will be due when service becomes available. However, city officials said that connection fees can either be paid in full or in twelve equal monthly payments. Connection fees for new construction will be due with a building permit fee.
Also, according to the resolution, all residential or commercial units are required to connect with the system, which will take the place of the city's current culinary and flood-type irrigation systems.
The rates were calculated in accordance with Board of Water Resources stipulations. That body has given the city a $3.6 million low-interest loan to defray the costs of construction and engineering for the system, which residents approved of overwhelmingly during last year's primary elections.
Additional costs for residents will come from irrigation and culinary rate revisions. Current irrigation bills for most residents average from $20 to $30 per year. Current culinary charges are a $5 base rate and a 50-cent charge per 10,000 gallons used - most residents' bills average from $7 to $8 monthly.
Rate revisions would call for the culinary base rate to stay the same but would approximately double the usage rate over the 10,000-gallon minimum. City Administrator Glen Vernon told the Deseret News earlier this year that average combined water bills could be between $17 and $18 monthly ($10 for culinary usage and from $7 to $8 monthly for irrigation usage, both of which would be unrestricted for times and amounts available for use).
However, usage rates could be revised again, and perhaps raised more substantially, should the Utah Taxpayer's Association - a tax-watchdog group - manage to overturn the city's franchise utility tax with its current lawsuit, which terms the tax unconstitutional.
A public hearing has been set at 7 p.m. March 20.
- Connection: $120 for parcels of land up to one-half acre, plus $60 per each quarter-acre after.
- Service charges: $96 annually ($8 monthly) for lots of one-half acre or less; $144 annually ($12 monthly) for lots from one-half acre to three-quarters of an acre; $192 annually ($16 monthly) for lots between three-quarters of an acre to one acre.Estimated impact on monthly water rates:
- Culinary users to keep $5 base rate, plus $1 per 10,000 gallons used - average bill $10 to $11 monthly with no restrictions.
- Irrigation users $7 to $8 monthly, no restrictions. Current rates: $20 to $30 annually with restrictions on weekly, daily and hourly usage, depending on water reserves.