Ignacio Town Board digs in on water, wastewater rate increases

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Ignacio Town Board digs in on water, wastewater rate increases

Members wrestle with higher costs from Southern Ute Utilities Division
Ignacio water and wastewater utility rate discussions with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ignacio community members lurched forward during community meetings held in September.

Ignacio Town Board digs in on water, wastewater rate increases

Ignacio water and wastewater utility rate discussions with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and Ignacio community members lurched forward during community meetings held in September.
Ignacio residents raise concerns, questions

The town of Ignacio held a community meeting Sept. 17 at Town Hall to address water and wastewater utility rate increases residents must begin paying in January. Residents asked questions about the town’s utility structure and town officials provided answers.

Q: The town did not pass on the tribe’s 2018 rate increase to customers. Now, customers are paying for a “triple-hit,” the tribe’s 2018 and 2019 rate increases and the town’s 2019 increase. Why didn’t they pass on the 2018 increase?

A: The town was in rate negotiations in 2018, said Ignacio town Trustee Allison deKay.

Q: The town adds on its own charges to the tribe’s charges. How is that money spent?

A: Salaries, trainings, benefits, operating costs, water loss factor and small capital replacement to fill the utility fund for future projects, said Mark Garcia, interim town manager.

Q: The town has used the gas utility enterprise fund to subsidize the water and wastewater utility funds. Why?

A: Gas fund reserves have covered matches on grants, debt payments and the costs of not passing on water and wastewater utility rate increases to customers. No gas funds have gone into the general fund, Garcia said. “We anticipate gas rates will go down.”

Q: What is your long-range plan, especially to help residents who can’t afford the rate increases?

A: The town started the rate analysis to address that problem. The board changed the rate structure to better accommodate people who use less than 3,000 gallons. The town is not currently applying for grants for residential assistance, board members said.

“It has led us to this point,” deKay said. “Your thoughts really and truly have been our thoughts for years, and it’s been hard. At this point, we are not at a solution. We are looking at ideas, but it’s not going well.”

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