Ute, Clifton water districts raising rates

It’s going to cost more to turn on the faucet next year when the Clifton and Ute water districts raise rates to cover increasing costs.

Clifton Water District will bump up its rates as of Jan. 1, and the district’s 40,000 customers will see their costs go up about $2.90 a month on average.

Most Ute Water Conservancy customers, who number about 80,000, will see their water bills go up about $3 a month as of Feb. 1.

The Ute Water board approved the increase to make up for a projected shortfall if the existing rates were continued, Ute spokesman Joe Burtard said.

The average Ute customer now pays about $21 per month for water. Under the new rates, that bill will go to $24, Burtard said.

In Clifton, the average residential customer will see the monthly bill go from $22 to $24.90.

Ute customers who pay the minimum of $11 a month will see their rate go to $13 a month.

In Clifton, customers who pay the minimum $10 will be charged $12.

Both districts have tiered rate structures that are intended to discourage overuse of water by charging more for larger amounts of water.

Rates in both districts are based on paying for operations, maintenance and replacement costs, so the margin for error is thin, both districts said.

Had Ute Water chosen not to raise rates, its rates would have produced total revenue 24 percent below that of 2008, Burtard said.

Revenue would have been reduced for several reasons, including a cooler summer when customers would have used less water, and an increase in vacant residences, presumably as a result of foreclosures, to conservation efforts, Burtard said.

Clifton Water Manager Dale Tooker said his district has noted similar trends. In past years, the Clifton district tracked about 100 homes a year that were vacant at any given time. At this time last year, the count was 250 and now is running between 360 and 380, Tooker said.

The costs of collecting, treating and delivering water, however, remain the same or grow, so the remaining customers “have to bear the burden of the expense of continuing to maintain the system,” Tooker said.

Clifton has the authority to levy a property tax, but hasn’t done so for 27 years, Tooker noted.

Clifton last increased rates in 2004, but it likely won’t be six years before there’s another.

The Clifton board is considering smaller, more regular increases, “so this is probably not going to be our last rate increase,” Tooker said.

The Grand Valley’s other large water supplier, the city of Grand Junction, last raised rates in 2009, and no rate increases are in the offing, city spokeswoman Sam Rainguet said.


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