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Sandy water bills to increase slightly, proposed rate hike for 2017

May 23, 2016 01:20PM ● Published by Chris Larson

Sandy City Public Utilities plans to increase the base water rate by $2 as part of their 2016-2017 proposed budget. 

Sandy Public Utilities Director Shane Pace said in the May 17 city council meeting. the rate increase will increase revenue for public utilities projects by three percent or about $600,000 annually.

That means the base fee for accounts with three-quarters inch meters, common for most residences, will increase from $11.74 to $13.74. Pace said in an interview that is no proposal to increase block water fees

In part, the fee increase comes from an increase fees to the city from the Metropolitan Water District of Salt Lake & Sandy, who treats water for Sandy City. The water district is attempting to make up for missed revenues after projections for demand and revenues feel flat due to the recession, Pace said. 

"We have to maintain our own system,"  Pace said in an interview. "We are very much in replacement mode as well."

Pace noted that there are portions of the water system that need to be improved. Pace said the two 5 million gallon tanks in Flat Iron Park, which were were built in 1969 and 1970, will be replaced with one 5 million gallon tank to accommodate future demands for the downtown area.

Storm Water and Street Light rates will not increase this year, according the budget presented to the council for fiscal year 2016-2017. 

The five year plan for public utilities includes a possible $1 increase to the street light fee to help begin replacing about 7,900 aging "acorn style" streetlights on arterial streets. Pace said public utilities has $120,405 annually for this capital project but the estimates for replacing all lights will cost $9,779,510. 

A memo attached to the budget and signed by Public Utilities Advisory Boardman Don Milne state that the board unanimously approved the budget. 

The same letter stated water rate increases "will be necessary for the next few years..."

Public Utilities Operations Manager and Assistant Director Scott Ellis said Sandy City uses 470 miles of pipe and produces and consumes about 24,000 acre-feet of water per year. Future projects will include replacing old metal pipe with less corrodible concrete pipe, Ellis said. 

Pace also that citizens concerns over drought and population expansion have led to citizens using less water and, thus, decreased revenues for public utilities. 

"There is a difference between (using water more efficiently) and using less water," Pace said. "Anyone can use less water but that might lead to their landscape not doing well." 

He said the city has and can educate citizens on using water more efficiently by teaching them watering strategies for plant types, system timing and system improvement. 

Pace is confident that Sandy City is prepared for future population expansions. Utah's population is expected to nearly double in the coming decades. 

"We as a city, have prepared for the future," Pace said. "We have gone out and purchased the water rights we need for the future."

He said that he is confident that the city is prepared to supply the water needs of its citizens in the future despite fears across the state were other cities may not be similarly prepared. 

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