The Worst is Over: Fernley Water/Sewer Rate Hikes - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

The Worst is Over: Fernley Water/Sewer Rate Hikes

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The City of Fernley says it knows the challenges residents are facing with a new sewer and water rate structure, causing bills to more than double, but that it was necessary for the long term. The changes come after the Fernley City Council made it a priority in 2016 to study the system.

"We had to do a comprehensive look at the entire system," says Fernley City Manager Daphne Hooper, "so we looked at just general maintenance and operation, we looked at our bond debt (loan to pay for Fernley Water Treatment Plant) and we looked at revenue reserves (savings) that we need to make sure that we have in place and then capital projects, things that we need to complete for the entire system."

Hooper says the city had been using the reserve fund to cover maintenance and operation costs but also cover the bond debt for the water treatment plant. That resulted in about a $1 million loss in revenue each year, "So we had to revamp the system and the structure to make sure it's sustainable for the long run. So that led to a rate structure increase."

The sharpest increase came this January 1st (2017) when the normal base rate went from about $19 per month to more than $42 per month. The city no longer has a tier system for usage rates, instead it is now charging $3.03 for every 1,000 gallons of water used. There will be much less drastic increases to both the base rate and usage fees each June through 2020. Sewer rates will increase by about $5 in July, and then $1 to $2 dollars each July until 2020.

Monthly Charges Per Meter
Effective Date 1/1/2017 1/7/2017 1/7/2018 1/7/2019 1/7/2020
3/4" $42.85 $44.03 $46.80 $49.29 $51.44
1" $71.05 $73.00 $77.61 $81.74 $85.31
1.5" $168.92 $173.54 $184.55 $194.43 $202.93
2" $226.50 $273.79 $291.20 $306.80 $320.23
3" $609.58 $626.24 $666.09 $701.80 $732.52
4" $847.64 $870.83 $926.01 $975.47 $1,018.08
6" $1,891.22 $1,942.91 $2,066.56 $2,177.36 $2,272.70
Usage Fee (in addition to monthly fee)
Rate/100k Gal. $3.03 $3.10 $3.28 $3.45 $3.60
Sewer Rate Schedule
Effective Date 1/1/2017 7/1/2017 7/1/2018 7/1/2019 7/1/2020
Flat $29.51 $34.67 $36.60 $37.85 $39.25

The new structure will allow the city to pay down the bond debt with a fee collected from the tax roll (those who pay property tax.). The other three factors (general operations/maintenance, reserve revenues, capital projects) will benefit from the rate increase. Hooper says the new structure should hopefully be sustainable forever.

"So we won't have to do this dramatic increase at once it'll sustain the system over time and it'll increase as it goes," says Hooper, "We understand the challenges. We have been working with Lyon County Human Services to come up with a plan to help those residents that aren't able to afford that, so we're trying to partner with them."

If you have any questions about the changes contact the Utility Billing Department between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday at 775-784-9930.

This story has been corrected. We originally stated that Fernley would pay down the bond debt with property taxes, however it only collects a fee on the tax roll. We apologize for the error. 

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