Lander’s proposed budget includes water, sewer rate increases – with more likely in future, staff says

Lander’s proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year includes a 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates, treasurer Charri Lara said during a work sesssion last week.

The change equates to less than $3 more per month for each household, Lara said, or about $32 per year.

She pointed out that the city did not adjust its water rates last year.

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“So it’s been two years since our water rates (have gone up),” Lara said.

During that time, infrastructure costs have risen quite a bit, public works director Lance Hopkin pointed out.

“Everything is getting more expensive, as far as what the material costs are,” he said.

That market change is coming at a time when Lander has “a lot of infrastructure that is aged and in need of repair and replacement,” Hopkin added.

The city is developing its capital improvement plan for the coming decade, he said, and a rate study will be part of that discussion.

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“(We’re) significantly underfunded at this time,” Hopkin said. “So that study will reveal where we need to start to look and how we get there.”

Community center

Lander’s proposed budget includes a rate increase for community center rentals, too.

The cost to rent the entire community center is set to rise by $100 per day, according to the proposal, with a $50 daily increase to rent a meeting room.

Lara said those rates haven’t changed for several years, and even with the proposed increases, the income gained from community center rentals won’t cover the cost to maintain the building.

“(We) subsidize the community center annually,” Councilmember Missy White said. “It’s not that it’s generating all kinds of extra money. … We’re trying to lose a little less.”

The council will officially consider the budget proposal during a regular meeting later this month.

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