Stateline water bills may rise
Residents who live along Kingsbury Grade could soon have to pay more for their water.
Kingsbury General Improvement District officials are proposing a $3 increase on household water bills starting in July to help fund an improvement project that will replace old, leaking water pipes and a water tank.
More than 300 water leaks documented by the district since 1994 and an engineer’s report released last year that identified $24 million in needed pipe improvements persuaded the district to take action.
The district expects to raise its water rate another $3 a month in 2004 and again in 2005 to help pay off a $3 million loan that will fund part of upgrade, being called Phase I.
Phase I will cost $8 million and take three years to complete. The remaining costs of the project will be covered by a $5 million state grant.
“(The rate increase) is not going to break me,” said Mary Ann Beckwith, who lives on Andria Drive off Kingsbury Grade. “I’m not going to think ‘Oh, I have to sell.’ I can’t complain about their service, but who wants their bills to go up?”
Beckwith, who is retired, moved to Andria Drive almost three years ago. She suggests the district raise rates $5 a year every couple of years instead of increasing it three years in a row, which is what the district is proposing.
“We’ve already had one increase in three years,” Beckwith said. “I think I’d rather that they increase it $5 then wait and increase it another $5 later. It’s like the post office. They increase the rates all the times so you feel like you’re being taxed more.”
The district provides water to 2,400 customers from just beyond the ridge of Kingsbury Grade, down to the end of Kahle Drive and as far east as Lake Village. The district does not provide water to the Stateline casinos.
It sells water at the rate of $45 a month to residential customers. This year’s proposed increase comes after a $2.25 rate hike last July. It was needed to cover operational costs and fund water pipe replacement projects, said Candi Rohr, district general manager.
The new pipes are expected to be installed this summer, with the water tank in place by 2004. The rest of the upgrades identified in the engineer’s report, an additional $16 million worth of work, would involve increasing the size of district water pipes to meet state and federal standards for fire protection, Rohr said.
The district, however, hasn’t made any concrete plans beyond Phase I. Action will depending on availability of funds, Rohr said.
The new water tank, which cost about $1 million, will be installed next at the top of the district water system above Tahoe Village. Water pipe will be laid this summer on Pine Drive, part of Juniper Drive, on Meadow Drive and Charles Lane, Palisades Road and Edgewood Drive.
Water meters, which don’t exist for the majority of the district’s residential customers, will be installed at 386 homes that tap into the new piping. Water meters for the rest of the district are expected to be phased in over time.
The meters will promote water conservation and could result in higher rates at homes using higher volumes of water. But Rohr said the district’s board has not decided when or how meter charges will go into effect and what the rate structure will be. The meters are a requirement of the state grant awarded to the district.
“The goal in the state is water conservation,” Rohr said. “(But the meters) will allow us to manage our water better and, when we are fully metered, provide more cost equity.”
The district had public meetings in December and January to discuss how Phase I will be financed. The district is having another meeting Wednesday to introduce the improvement project.
“We want them to understand what the need of the system are,” Rohr said. “To understand that it will cause rates to be increased for improvements, although at a much lower rate had we not obtained a grant or the loan.”
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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