District proposes sprinkler fee | TahoeDailyTribune.com

District proposes sprinkler fee

Gregory Crofton

New houses at South Shore are getting larger these days, large enough for fire districts to require them to have fire sprinkler systems.

If South Tahoe Public Utility District approves an ordinance change it is expected to vote on today, the district will charge those larger homes, typically 5,000 square feet or more, a one-time fee of more than $1,600 to supply water to their sprinkler system. In addition, the district’s proposal includes a new basic connection fee for all new homes of $750.

“We’re trying to make everything consistent,” said Rhonda McFarlane, district chief financial officer. “We want new customers to pay for the impacts to the system; otherwise, all of our other customers pay for it.”

The connection fees would be in addition to an existing one-time fee for new homes and new commercial buildings.

The district is proposing an increase in that fee of 4.1 percent each year for the next five years.

The fee compensates for the impact new households and businesses have on the district’s water supply infrastructure. Last year, the fee increased 3.2 percent. This year, consultants did a study on the district’s fee structure and recommended a larger increase.

“This goes right back into improving the system,” McFarlane said. “It’s not for operational costs, it’s for infrastructure.”

The current water capacity unit charge for a new single-family home is $1,843. In 2005, the charge would increase to $1,919; by 2009 it would be $2,253, McFarlane said.

If the district’s ordinance is approved, all of the proposed fee increases would take effect Feb. 3.

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