Budget and rate increase to be considered | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Budget and rate increase to be considered

Patrick McCartney

Directors of the South Tahoe Public Utility District will consider approving a 3.5 percent water and sewer rate increase Thursday, when the board is scheduled to adopt the district’s new budget.

The board will consider a $8.5 million water enterprise fund budget and a $21.3 million sewer enterprise fund budget.

The proposed hike in sewer rates is the first since 1991, and will pay the district’s share of a $34 million project to replace the district’s 27-mile wastewater export line to Alpine County. The 3.5 percent increase translates to $2.23 more per quarter for a typical household, raising the quarterly bill to $87.92 per quarter.

The rate hike would result in $240,000 in new revenues for the sewer fund.

The proposed increase in the water rate would add $2.95 to the quarterly bill for a single family home, increasing the quarterly rate to $87.55. The rate increase would add $230,000 in revenues to the water budget.

While the directors waived a sewer rate increase last year, citing a weak economy after mudslides closed U.S. Highway 50 for an extended period, the water rate increase is the fourth in a six-year rate adjustment intended to pay for infrastructure improvement.

Duane Wallace, a member of the board’s finance committee, said the rate increases are needed to pay for essential improvements.

“It’s a tough short-range decision, but a good long-range decision,” Wallace said.

The extra revenues are needed to continue improving water storage and delivery, and to pay for the wastewater export line.

“The water increase is all for things you can touch,” Wallace said, adding that a rate increase was preferable to bonding for the sewer improvements.

“We have to do the pipeline,” he said. “If we had bonded the money, we’d be paying interest forever. But if we put up half the money, the federal government is putting up the other half. This is money wisely spent.”

The federal government approved $7.5 million this year for the pipeline project as part of the presidential forum deliverables, and is expected to approve another $7.5 million in the next fiscal year.

At a glance:

What: South Tahoe utility budget and rate increase

Who: South Tahoe Public Utility District board of directors

When: 2 p.m. Thursday

Where: City Council Chambers, 1900 Lake Tahoe Blvd.

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