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Economy, short summer mean possible need for hike in water rates
by Jill Lufrano
Nov 11, 2011 | 515 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
RENO — Fewer residents, empty homes and shorter summers have led Truckee Meadows to seek higher rates for water usage, which might equate to as much as $1.42 per bill for each customer if approved by its board of directors.

Wednesday’s public meeting to discuss the higher fees only drew four customers, according to Kim Mazeres, director of customer relations for the water authority. The authority serves 330,000 customers.

“The last two seasons have been shorter than normal, so there hasn’t been as much water use,” Mazeres said. “We’ve cut expenses 18 percent, including reducing staff 15 percent (25 personnel), as we still aren’t taking in enough money to cover expenses.”

Mazeres said the authority wants to ensure the highest quality of water served to its customers, hence the reason to seek higher fees to cover costs.

For the average customer, the higher cost will equate to five cents a day.

“We want to get through these hard times safely,” Mazeres said.

The board will meet at 10 a.m. Nov. 16 in the Sparks City Council chambers where they will hear the first reading of this agenda item. The item will have to be heard a second time at the board’s Jan. 18 meeting before the rates are put into effect. The rates are proposed to take effect on the February 2012 water bills, according to Mazeres.

Customers will see several charges on their bills, including customer charges for the minimum amount he or she pays for water service. A portion of this goes to maintaining and replacing the meter and the authority-owned pipes for each property and the cost of equipment and labor to read the meter, process the meter reading and process payment. There will also be tiered water usage charges for metered customers. Any monthly usage over and above the first tier will be charged extra. A regional water management fee will also be imposed by the Western Regional Water Commission to be expended solely for the purposes of water planning. The fee is currently 1.5 percent of the total bill. A right of way toll is a fee charged to utilities and telecommunication companies for the right to use property owned by the government such as the property underneath the streets.
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