The Three Rivers city council reviewed possible rate increase options with Raul Gonzalez, operations management specialist for the south Texas field office of the Community Resource Group, as part of the Rural Community Assistance Program at their monthly meeting on April 8.
According to Gonzalez, the USDA asks communities to pursue rate studies that provide for depreciation of value and emergency reserve funds.
“I know we need to do something because every year the CPA (certified public accountant) says we need to do something,” Mayor James Liska said.
Gonzalez noted three factors influencing the city rate structure for Three Rivers; an outstanding debt of $118,929, a 2012 operations and maintenance budget of $984,709, and aligning base charges with the American Water Works Association’s meter equivalent ratios.
“If you think this is the fair way, then this is the way we want to do it,” Liska said.
Gonzales also said that much like Three Rivers, the rural areas west of town, referred to as the Certificates of Convenience and Necessity, also has an outstanding annual debt note of $174,481, a 2012 operations and maintenance budget of $358,378 and a need to align their meter rates with AWWA equivalent ratios. In addition, a $1.4 million capital improvement project is planned for the CCN area.
Three Rivers has 845 accounts at 3/4 inch and 5/8 inches, 28 one-inch accounts, 49 two-inch accounts, two accounts at three-inches, and five accounts at four inches.
Three Rivers customers use an average of 11,715 gallons per month and CCN customers use 43,902 gallons per month according to Gonzalez. During the meeting it was pointed out that the accounts with larger connections skew those averages.
Alderman Tim Strolemy said taxpayers have been carrying the financial burden for CCN customers. The council approved two different rate options, one for Three Rivers, and one for the CCN.
The council opted for Gonzalez’s second rate proposal for Three Rivers. Under this rate, larger connections would see larger fees but typical residential accounts with 3/4 inch and 5/8 inch connections would not see a base rate increase, which is currently $15.
“It is based on demand, and they demand more water production, more storage, and more pumping; this is the standard that is used,” Gonzalez said. “By going to this, the residential customers would not be impacted.”
Base charges for usage in Three Rivers will remain the same, $15 for 2,000 gallons per month or less with the same increasing charges based on amount of water used.
For the CCN, existing monthly water usage fees will increase to the tune of about $20 overall. For most residential accounts, the ones using under 2,000 gallons per month, the current $20 rate will increase to $36. This increases incrementally based on usage up to 15,000 gallons, which has a current rate of $46 that will go to $69.80.
Those impacted by the Three Rivers rate change would be the ones with larger connections. The following are the new rates for each connection size:
• One inch: $37.50
• 1 1/2 inch: $75
• Two inches: $120
• Three inches: $240
• Four inches: $375
• Six inches: $750
• Eight inches: $1,200
In the CCN, there are 271 accounts at 3/4 inch and 5/8 inches, three accounts at one-inch, two accounts at 2 1/2 inches, eight accounts at two inches, one account at four inches, and one account at six inches.
The following are the CCN’s new rates for each connection size:
• 3/4 inch and 5/8 inch: $36
• One inch: $90
• 1 1/2 inch: $180
• Two inches: $288
• Three inches: $576
• Four inches: $900
• Six inches: $1,800
• Eight inches: $2,880