Ralph Remick: NID sticks customers with rate hikes
I understand the Nevada Irrigation District’s need to balance its operating budget. What I question is the approach used to calculate new revenues to meet their proposed annual budgets.
It seems that the bulk of new revenue sources will be from existing treated water customers with an increase in 2019 of approximately 45% over current fixed rates. By the year 2023 this will amount to an increase of approximately 86% over current fixed rates.
Using the 5/8-meter current fixed rate at $24.83/month, customers will be paying $36.00/month for basic service the rest of 2019. And in 2023, instead of the current fixed rate of $24.83/month, customers will be paying $46.34/month — an 86% rate increase. Fixed-rate increases appear to be similar for all treated water customers inside and outside the district.
In addition, all fixed rate customers will have a new charge added to their monthly billing statements of $1.90 or $22.90 annually for state regulatory fees.
However current raw water customers will only experience a fixed and usage rate increase of about 6% or less per year for agriculture and hydroelectric use.
I have a neighbor who waters his back acre every year using raw untreated water just to keep the backyard looking green. He has no animals, garden, or fruit trees in the area he waters. Truly the treated water customers are going to be carrying the major portion of the revenue increase for water service. What is wrong with this picture?
The NID board was clever in timing the rate increase during tax season when people are preoccupied with property and income taxes. That is what kept me from really investigating the rate tables and talking in person with NID staff before this week. Also NID just went from bimonthly billing to monthly billing, so that any rate impact would not be readily felt by treated water customers.
There is still time to get a letter of protest into NID before the public hearing this Wednesday, April 24 at 9 a.m. There is a box in the NID lobby where such protests can be dropped off. Your written statement of protest needs to include the date, customer name, street address and APN if available. Do one letter of protest per property whether you are an owner or a tenant.
If this NID rate increase is passed due to lack of majority customer protests, then I suggest the next best thing — request a treated meter downsize replacement. It will cost you a $65 fee up front, but will save you a lot of money over time for NID treated water.
Ralph Remick lives in Grass Valley.
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