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Mon, Sept. 16

New PV billing system reaps savings for most

PRESCOTT VALLEY – "Pay for what you flush" remains the town's motto when it comes to sewer fees.

Currently a town resident's sewer usage determines his or her sewer fee. And, according to town figures, most people are now paying less for sewer use than before the town switched to its new "pay for what you use" method this past fall.

For example, of the 9,295 sewer accounts the town billed this year, nearly three-quarters saw a decrease in their monthly bills.

That means a total of 6,751 town citizens will pay less than the previous $18 per month flat fee.

About 2,500 residents (23 percent) saw an increase in their sewer bills, while a small percentage will pay $10 or less on their bills.

The amount of sewer accounts that increased between 1 percent and 9 percent was 524, while 2,020 accounts increased by more than 9 percent.

The town changed its $18.36 per month flat rate fee, which had been in effect since 1994, this past fall when it adopted a new residential wastewater billing method, in tandem with a new water rate fee structure.

The town hired a consultant and appointed a Rate Study Review Committee, then adopted the committee's recommendation of a volume-based billing system.

The sewer rate does not change monthly. Rather, it changes once a year based on each account's winter water usage rate from November to March, explained Management Services Director Bill Kauppi.

The town's utility department takes the winter average water usage amount and calculates 90 percent of that average, Kauppi said.

"This (amount) is what the person will be charged for a sewer rate if their usage is below their winter average," he said.

The town will charge the resident either the amount below that winter average or the actual usage – whichever is less.

Therefore, the town calculates the actual gallons billed during November through March and divides that amount by five and then multiplies that amount by 90 percent.

Kauppi offered the example of a residential winter average use of 6,000 gallons of water.

The Utility Department will take 90 percent of that amount, or 5,400 gallons, Kauppi explained.

According to the town's fee structure for that amount, the town will charge $2.54 per 1,000 gallons in addition to adding a base fee for the water meter.

That base fee is $4.83 and the town will either charge that total amount or the actual usage amount – whichever is less, Kauppi said.

Kauppi explained that the town still reads water meters manually with a hand-held device.

A town employee enters the first three digits of the water meter reading and rounds that number to the thousands, Kauppi said.

If residents suspect an incorrect reading or a possible leak, they should call the town's Utility Department, he said.

Contact Briana Lonas at blonas@prescottaz.com.

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