Residents are using less water after rate increase

February 26, 2014 • Local News

Residents are using less water after last year’s rate increase and after facing another dollar increase in rates this year, the city’s water superintendent told the city’s finance committee Wednesday.

The city raised rates by 22 percent, which went into effect March 1. Rates increased another $1 Jan. 1.

The city hoped to use the extra funds to pay for operations and to repair wastewater systems.

But users began constricting use to avoid paying the extra cost, said Art Torrez, water and wastewater superintendent.

Councilor Steve Henderson, also committee chairman, said the usage decrease made sense.

“We have a little fallout,” Henderson said. “People are a little [auth] more conservative, which makes sense.”

The rate increase package calls to add another dollar to bills in 2015 and 2016.

The basic rate for city service in 2014 is $8.47. County service is $16.93 for the first 3,000 gallons.

The city has realized 13-18 percent increases. The average percentage increase is 17.8 percent, Torrez said.

“You can tell customers are adjusted to the rate increase,” Torrez said. “We’re looking at 14.33 percent now.”

Henderson said he was glad to see the city was on track.

“We needed the 22 percent. We’re on the mend, that’s the main thing,” Henderson said.

The money will allow the city to proceed with some priority projects with the wastewater repairs, said City Manager Larry Fry.

“I’ve asked Art to prioritize some of the these different projects, and at the same time, we’re accumulating some of that money to use on some of these higher-dollar projects.”

The finance committee also gave its nod of approval to several Lodger’s Tax requests. The requests will now be forwarded to City Council for finalization.

A $57,000 request was approved by the New Mexico Senior Olympics State Games for this year’s July 16-19 games.

The organization expects 1,500 to 1,600 participants for 26 sports that will be played at venues throughout the city. Visitors are expected to pay for 1,600 hotel night stays.

The Pecos Valley Quilt Show was granted its request for $1,200 for its Sept. 18-20 show. Organizers expect to show 200 quilts at the Convention Center.

The 30th annual Milkman Triathlon was awarded $1,000 for the June 7 event.

The Jesse Andrus and Mike Hillman Memorial Bull Riding event, on July 25-26, was given $3,000 for its bull riding event that will feature a bucking bull competition and a new motocross event this year.

The 19th annual Hike it and Spike It organization was awarded $20,000 for the popular sports event.

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