GJ mulls rate hikes as reserve fund dips

For years, Grand Junction residents have opened their sewer and water bills to find their rates unchanged.

That may not be the case in the future, depending on whether Grand Junction City Council members agree to increase those costs.

At a meeting Monday night, council members heard from Greg Trainor, the facilities, utilities and street system director for Grand Junction.

The once-a-month readiness sessions are an opportunity for the city’s department heads to report to council members on issues and their progress in their respective areas.

After years of capital spending and improving the water system mostly with available cash, the city’s water, wastewater and solid waste enterprise fund has dipped to about $2.25 million from its high point of $4.5 million in 2006, Trainor outlined in a report. The fund is projected to dip to $1.5 million by 2016, a dollar amount that makes staff at the city’s water and sewer department uncomfortable, Trainor said.

The city is required to keep a $1 million reserve in the water enterprise fund.

“In recent years, we’ve had no rate increases,” Trainor said. “We have some of the lowest utility rates in the valley and the state.”

Council members haven’t yet been presented with any proposal by city staff for rate increases, but acting City Manager Rich Englehart said some proposals would be forthcoming.

Council members do not vote on issues during readiness sessions, but those conversations and votes will occur in upcoming meetings.

After hearing about costs savings and cutbacks the department has endured in recent years, Mayor Tom Kenyon said he would be supportive of dedicating dollars to the department during budget talks.

“We will look very seriously when we get to the budget process of what your needs might be,” Kenyon said.


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