New Water Rates Discussed by Lamar Council

Interior of 6 M Gallon Tank During Renovations Several Years Ago

Interior of 6 M Gallon Tank During Renovations Several Years Ago

The City of Lamar has not raised municipal water rates since 2009, but is considering an increase in light of the funds that have been spent over the past several years upgrading the city’s water delivery infrastructure.  This includes work done on water, wastewater and storm-water facilities.  The price tag for debt on the projects is $7.5M, as well as an additional $3.8M for well-field pipeline and improvements and a near total replacement of all the city’s water meters.  The City of Lamar also plans to spend $1.8M on upgrades on the pipelines under Main Street next year, when CDOT begins to rebuild Main Street through the town.  Other well field improvements are being scheduled, along with replacing the storm-water lift station at the Lamar Canal and Main Street, replacing fire hydrants as needed and the annual valve replacements in the city’s water distribution system.  The city council discussed an equitable means of raising water rates to pay off the debt during a work session held prior to the council meeting on November 23rd.

Operating expenses have actually declined over the past several years, while water quality has improved due to the construction projects.  The tight budget is attributable to bond and loan payments of $621,506 for next year as well as interest on the loans for a total of $909,415.  City Administrator, John Sutherland, discussed several options for rate increases with the council based on usage of 500 cubic feet of water per month.  The current rate is $0.0144 per cubic foot and all residents are assessed a monthly base charge of $11.05 and a facility investment fee of $6.50 per month.  The concept of a sliding scale of fee increases, based on water usage, appeared to be the best option and the council will hold another work session to approximate the revenues generated from various proposed fee levels.  They will also work out a similar rate increase for commercial customers.

Right now, Lamar has one of the lowest rate fee scales among several comparable cities for population.  Lamar is charging a basic fee of 29.60 per month on a ¾ inch meter based on $0.02 per cubic foot which translates to 3,740 gallons for 500 cubic feet as a base charge.  By comparison, Cortez charges $36.10, La Junta users pay $49.82, Craig is at $43.70 and Sterling pays $67.43.

On a separate utility matter, the city council was informed that city auditors have recommended that uncollectible accounts be written off to the uncollectible reserve account.  As of this month, Lamar Light and Power has $49,997.21 in delinquent accounts and they are capped at $50,000 for each year; the Water Department lists $19,412.15 and the Sanitation Department has $11,237.70 for a total of $80,647.06.  Delinquent accounts have almost tripled from 2013 to 2014 for the Water and Sewer Fund and have doubled in that same period for the Sanitation Fund.

On the calendar, Administrator Sutherland reminded the council city offices will be closed Thursdays and Fridays for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  The December 2nd city council breakfast will be held at Rancher’s Restaurant, the annual Parade of Lights is set for Friday, December 4th followed by the Candy Cane Festival for participating merchants on the 5th of the month.  The council has scheduled a work session for Monday, December 7th.

By Russ Baldwin

Filed Under: BusinessCitycommunityEconomyFeaturedLamarProwers CountyUtilities


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