Commissioners leave sewer rates untouched

Nov. 30, 2000
Rio Rancho Utility Commissioners took no action Tuesday night on an analysis of the city's methodology for figuring monthly sewer rates for single-family residential accounts.

Nov. 29, 2000 (Albuquerque Journal)--Rio Rancho Utility Commissioners took no action Tuesday night on an analysis of the city's methodology for figuring monthly sewer rates for single-family residential accounts.

Commissioner Don Roach requested the analysis of how the city determines its rate, but during Tuesday's meeting withdrew a proposal that would have recommended revising it.

The city currently determines its wastewater billing by adding a customer's fixed rate -- a monthly charge based on the size of their water meter -- to their "volumetric charge" based on water use.

The volumetric charge calculates the water billed to a customer in December, January and February to determine a "Winter Quarter Average."

The Winter Quarter Average is then used the rest of the year as a customer's monthly volumetric charge.

Utility Department Deputy Director Dee Fuerst's analysis addressed whether using a different method for determining rates would be more fair than using a Winter Quarter Average.

Some water customers contend that they use water for landscaping during the Winter Quarter Average calculation period, and that makes their water consumption higher than average for that time period, according to a Utility Commission memo.

Fuerst's analysis looked at using a single month to determine a customer's volumetric charge, as opposed to using the "Winter Quarter Average." It also examined using different months than the ones currently used to determine the average.

The results of Fuerst's study showed that "changing the methodology in the way the rate is calculated would reduce sewer revenue to the City," according to the Utilities Commission memo.

"To maintain the current revenue stream, the sewer rate would need to be raised to offset the revenue loss," the memo continued.

Utilities Commission Chairman Henry Pacelli said during Tuesday's meeting that raising sewer rates regardless of water use would not be fair for customers.

"Those that use it should pay for the use," Pacelli said. "Those that don't use it shouldn't be charged."

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