(Lander, Wyo.) – A consultant Tuesday night presented recommendations to the Lander City Council after studying the city’s water and sewer rates, which, if accepted, could amount to higher or lower monthly bills depending on usage.
Carl Brown of Carl Brown Consulting argued for a more fair distribution of water and sewer charges, saying that customers should be paying back into the system the costs they incur on the system.
“Your low volume customers right now are subsidizing your high volume customers,” he said.
With the current rates, all residential customers play a flat rate for using up to 12,000 gallons of water per month, which he said was the highest he’d seen in 20 years of doing such studies. However, more than half of the residential customers use less than 10,000 gallons monthly. Brown said that those paying less than what they’re using are essentially paying for those who use more.
Brown recommended a 2,000 gallon allowance with base charge. Then there are per 1,000 gallon charges. Surcharges are added for commercial meters larger than the residential 5/8 inch meters based on their size.
For residential customers using 10,000 gallons a month, the combined water/sewer bill now is $55.33 and under the recommendation the bill would be $7.28 more at $62.61.
The tipping point under the recommendation is customers using under 6,000 gallons a month, who will see a reduction, while those using more will see an increase. The largest possible decrease is upwards of 50 percent in some commercial meters while some of the largest users could see a 242 percent increase. There are two current customers that would see an average increase that high.
The council did not discuss the pros or cons of accepting the recommendation, though it was noted by Council President Nancy Pieropan and Councilor Cade Maestas that revenue to cover future capital improvements was a consideration, as was conservation.
Brown estimated that early on usage could drop up to 20 percent due to increased costs, but it should even out around 10 percent lower.
His recommendation was to begin implementing rate changes in November. The council will be discussing the matter in future work sessions, though a timeframe for decisions has not yet been made.
Residents at the meeting raised concerns about the the possible implications of the study on a broader scale, such as some customers maybe joining ditch companies or digging wells.
Former Lander Rep. and former Lander Mayor Del McOmie reminded the board to consider the economical implications of putting additional costs on businesses.
The synopsis and complete report can be found on the city’s website here.