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Spearfish utility fees to increase in 2019

November 7, 2018

SPEARFISH — Customers utilizing city water, sewer, and wastewater services in Spearfish can expect to see an increase in their bills beginning in February.

The Spearfish City Council Monday approved a resolution setting utility fee changes to begin in February to allow for proper notice to customers.

Dave Dutton, city finance officer, explained that HDR Engineering is currently working on a utility rate study for that city and that preliminary data indicates a requirement for water, sewer, and wastewater rate increases for residential and commercial customers in 2019.

For residential customers, the minimum monthly charges would increase $2.90; commercial customers would see minimum monthly charges increase $3.60 per month.

“The rates are based upon the approved capital improvement plan,” Dutton said. “These are the revenues that would be required in order to maintain our current reserve requirements within those funds.”

Mayor Dana Boke said that the recommendation is “nowhere near” the recommendations presented by the consultant earlier, and Dutton explained that staff had several meetings to go over reserve requirements so that the increases could be more gradually introduced that initially recommended “… to try to level out the rate increases over time.”

“We’ll get to our goal, but it’ll take longer, just so our customers don’t see that big hit, which would be difficult, so we’re trying to ‘eat the elephant’ one bite at a time.”

Boke pointed out to those in the audience that the cost of treating wastewater has increased, so having to cover those costs is one of the main issues.

Dutton also pointed that utilities are funds only funded through user fees.

“They are not supported by taxes in any way, so these are funds that the fees pay for the service,” he said.

The council unanimously approved the resolution. Councilman George Martin was absent.

The breakdown of the fees shows that the minimum charge for water, currently $14.95, would increase to $15.25. The first 2,000 gallons, per 1,000 gallons, is currently at $2, which increases to $2.05. From 2,001 to 8,000 gallons, per thousand gallons, is currently $3.50, and this increases to $3.60 in the resolution. From 8,001 to 30,000 gallons, per thousand, increases from $3.90 to $4, and 30,000 gallons and more, per thousand, increases from $4.10 to $4.20.

For wastewater, the residential treatment increases from $23.95 currently to $25.40. For commercial, the first 4,000 gallons goes from $23.95 to $25.40, and every 1,000 gallons thereafter increases from $2.95 to $3.15.

Under sewer fees, residential line maintenance and update, currently $18.45, increases to $19.60. For commercial line maintenance and line updating, for the first 4,000 gallons, the cost increases $30.70 to $32.55, and every 1,000 gallons thereafter increases from $1.50 to $1.60.

There are no recommended increases for solid waste fees at this time.

The resolution, and therefore fees, would go into effect on Feb. 1, 2019.

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