Town gives notice it may raise water rates

In the first step of the process for the Town of Chino Valley to increase its water and wastewater rates, the Town Council approved a notice of intention to raise the rates at its regular meeting Tuesday, Jan. 23.

It’s been a little more than five years since the town last increased those rates, according to Joe Duffy, finance director for Chino Valley.

“What we do tonight is adopt a notice of intention, basically let the public know, ‘hey, we talked about water and wastewater rates, and over the next 60 days, we have a nice little report that you can review with all the information on the rate changes and the proposals that we’re making,” Duffy said. “After 60 days, on March 27, we will have a public hearing.”

At the public hearing, the report will be presented in detail, and the Council will receive public input, he said.

Meanwhile, the town’s Water and Wastewater Rate Study 2018 is available at www.chinoaz.net/DocumentCenter, in the folder titled, “Utilities.”

The last time the town adopted new rates was in 2013, Duffy said. At that time, the town adopted a five-year water and wastewater rate increase schedule, he said, noting that later the town decided to hold off on sewer increases.

“We’d done three, and we have two more to go,” he said. “We held our sewer rate at $64.14. If we hadn’t done that, our sewer rates today would be $79.02.”

Some tweaks were made to the rates in May for multi-family housing, he said.

There are three options for the water rates, Duffy said. Those options include the following: no rate increase, a three percent increase over the next five years and a five percent increase over the next five years.

Similarly, there are three options for the wastewater rates, he said. Those options are the following: no rate increase, a three percent rate increase for five years or a $2 or 3 percent, one-time rate decrease. The wastewater rate for Chino Valley is 65 percent higher than the average rate in the state of Arizona and 28 percent higher than other wastewater systems in the area, according to the rate study.

According to Phyllis Smiley, attorney for Chino Valley, decreasing the rate would mean not having to go through the public hearing process the next time increasing rates are considered, according to Town Attorney Phyllis Smiley, said Duffy.

“Reducing the rate will reduce the annual cash-flow by an average of $48,000 over the next five years,” the study reads. “Each $1.00 in rate reduction will reduce the annual cash flow by an average of $24,000 each year.”

The water-rate schedule as of January 2017 has base charges of $5.61 for residential and commercial three-quarter-inch meters, $9.37 for residential and commercial 1-inch meters, $18.69 for commercial 1.5-inch meters, $29.91 for commercial 2-inch meters, $56.11 for commercial 3-inch meters and $93.62 for commercial 4-inch meters. The schedule also has volume charges of $5.61 for a stand pipe base rate per 1,000 gallons and three tiers ranging from $4.57 to $8, based on the number of gallons.