Sewer-connection fees to double |

Sewer-connection fees to double

Despite concerns about adding to the high cost of living at the South Shore, the South Tahoe Public Utility District Board unanimously voted to more than double its connection fees over the next five years.

The increase will apply to new development and will help keep existing ratepayers’ quarterly bills from going up, according to board members and STPUD staff.

“The present customers end up paying higher rates if you’re not charging an appropriate capacity fee,” said Rhonda McFarlane, STPUD’s chief financial officer.

The fees have not been increased since 1999, but construction costs have risen since that time, according to STPUD spokesman Dennis Cocking.

Two members of the audience at the sparsely attended hearing Thursday raised concerns about increasing fees when people are moving off the hill because of the higher cost of living.

“I just wonder how people wanting to move up here are going to be able to afford it,” said Wanda Stanley, a STPUD employee who spoke during the public-comment period of the meeting.

The fee increase could affect current ratepayers hoping to improve their existing home, Stanley said. Connection fees will not affect STPUD customers who aren’t planning to expand their current home but will apply to current residential and commercial ratepayers looking to add a sewer unit.

For residential customers, sewer units are bathrooms and kitchens.

Determining the number of sewer units for businesses is more complicated and typically is based on the number of fixtures, McFarlane said Friday.

California requires the connection fees to go toward sewer infrastructure improvement, which includes STPUD’s wastewater collection, treatment and export systems.

The state also recommends sewer districts examine connection fees every five years, so the connection fees are likely to continue to go up after this round of increases, Cocking said.

“I guarantee someone is going to have this same discussion five years from now,” STPUD board member Eric Schafer said during the meeting.

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