Archive for Wednesday, September 4, 2002

Review of rate hike at dispenser needed

September 4, 2002

In the next few weeks, it's likely the Tonganoxie City Council will reconsider its decision to raise rates by 300 percent at the city's bulk water dispenser.

After hearing complaints from several people who routinely draw water from the dispenser, Mayor John Franiuk vowed last week to re-examine the issue.

On Aug. 12 as city officials contemplated the city's water shortage council members increased the amount customers pay for water at the dispenser on East Fourth Street from 25 cents for 50 gallons to $1 for 50 gallons.

While it's understandable the city doesn't want to give away a precious commodity such as water, it does seem that the $1 rate is inflated. People who depend on water from the dispenser for use in their households likely are among the folks least able to afford a 300 percent price hike.

It is unfortunate there isn't a way to determine how water from the dispenser will be used and charge accordingly. But then, the city would be getting into muddy territory.

If the customer used the water only in his or her household for bathing and for washing dishes, for example the city could charge one fee. If a customer depended on the water hauled to a farm for household use and to keep cattle alive, the charge could be different. And if a customer hauled water to keep alive thousands of dollars worth of trees and plants, the charge could be different.

But how different?

And that's where the problem lies.

So one price fits all is the best answer.

But the price went up a little too high on Aug. 12. The city set the pricing structure for water drawn from the dispenser based on city water customers' charges.

Here is what city water customers pay:

$5.90 a month for the first 1,000 gallons of water they use.

$3.95 for each additional 1,000 gallons.

$7.50 water service fee and a $2 fee for fire capital.

$7.06 for the first 1,000 gallons of sewage treated.

$2.95 for each additional 1,000 gallons of sewage.

The $1 rate for 50 gallons of water was determined by adding the $5.90 fee, the $7.50 fee and the $7.06 fee, which equals $20.46. That was rounded down to $20 for 1,000 gallons or $1 for 50 gallons.

But users of the bulk water dispenser don't get a price break for using more than 1,000 gallons. And many of them are not using the city's sewage treatment system.

So it appears there is wiggle room in the pricing structure, and it seems only fair that the city council should change its collective mind about the fee structure.

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