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EUC proposes rate increase
by Tom Coombe -
Utility rates in Ely will increase again this year under terms of a proposal that advanced earlier this week.
Council members set a Feb. 20 public hearing to take input on slight water, sewer and electric rate increases proposed by the Ely Utilities Commission.
Base rates for both water and sewer service would climb by $2 per month each, and residential electric rates are slated to go up slightly.
According to various scenarios presented by the EUC, using actual bills as an example, the impact for residential customers ranges between four and five percent, with monthly bill increases up anywhere from $5 to $12 per month.
The impact on commercial customers is less dramatic, with the various scenarios showing 0.8 to 2.4 percent hikes in monthly billings.
Documentation to the council provided by the EUC’s rate committee - clerk-treasurer Harold Langowski and utility commissioners Kurt Soderberg and Warren Nikkola - outline rate hikes designed to allow the utility operation to keep up with capital needs.
That’s the driving force behind raising the base water rate to $12.25 per month, up from the current rate of $10.25, as well as a $2 monthly jump in the base sewer rate to $15.20.
The committee recommended the base fee increase to spread the obligation for capital improvements among all utility customers.
The sewer rate increase would allow the sewer component of the utility to have a cash reserve by the end of the year
Water usage charges in Ely would remain at $3.90 per 100 cubic feet, with sewer set at $7.20 per 100 cubic feet.
Electric rates will stay largely the same except for an increase past the first 100 kilowatt hour of usage. Once customers exceed 100 kilowatt hours and up to 1,000 kilowatt hours per month, the rate will go from 9.2 cents to 9.5.
To cover inflationary costs and to fund future capital projects, the EUC has gradually increased rates the last several years.
Five years ago, the water rate was $3.30 per 100 cubic feet while the sewer charge was $6.15. The base rate has also increased.
Customers have also seen some relief with the elimination of a franchise fee that collected an additional $4.14 per month from each EUC customer.
The EUC has wrestled with its budget for several years in an attempt to fund long-term maintenance projects while dealing with declining utility usage in town, both in overall water and sewer use and in total customers, with billings falling from 1,992 sewer billings in 2008 to 1,852 in 2015. That number has since climbed back to 1,867.