Sewer Rate Increase: March 15, 2017

On March 15, 2017, Hayden City residents and businesses will see an increase to their monthly sewer rates.  This is the final increase approved by the Hayden City Council in January 2014.  This fact sheet is intended to answer some frequently asked questions related to the sewer rate increase.

Q:  Why are the rates going up?

A:  The largest portion of the rate increase will be spent on upgrades to the sewer treatment plant.  The Hayden Area Regional Sewer Board (HARSB), the owner of the treatment plant, has been mandated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency to make upgrades to the existing system to meet new water quality standards for the water discharged from the treatment plant.  The City of Hayden’s share of the financial burden to complete this project will be approximately $18.8 million.  If the new water quality standards are not met in a timely manner, the fine will be $37,500 per day, or about $1 million per month.

B.  The rising cost of energy and other expenses to operate the sewer collection system and treatment plant has exceeded revenues generated from the users of the system.  The City has had to use reserve funds to meet the expenses.  This inequity must be rebalanced.

C.  To provide funding for “system reinvestment”.  The purpose of system reinvestment funding is to provide for the replacement of aging sewer system facilities (including lift stations and collection lines) to ensure sustainability of the system for ongoing operation.

Q:  What are the new rates?

A:  The new base rates are shown below.  This base rate is used for residences; commercial accounts may have a multiplier assigned.  Although these rates were passed by City Council for a four-year time period, in order to be fiscally responsible, the City will revisit the adopted rate strategy annually during the budget period.  Increases will occur on March 15th of each year.

                                    2014                $57.72 bi-monthly, $28.86 monthly

                                    2015                $63.50 bi-monthly, $31.75 monthly

                                    2016                $69.84 bi-monthly, $34.92 monthly

                                    2017                $76.84 bi-monthly, $38.42 monthly

Q:  What if I have pre-paid my account?

A:  Credits will be processed at the new rate, which means your credit will be depleted faster than at the old rate.  Please double check your balance to avoid late fees.

Q:  Will funds be used for expansion of the system for new users?

A:  No.  System expansion is paid for by capitalization fees collected when building permits for new construction are issued.

Q:  Was there advance notice of the increase?

A:  A “Notice of Public Hearing” for the proposed rate increase was published in the Coeur d’Alene Press on January 6, 2014, again on January 13, 2014, and an article was published on January 14, 2014.  The Public Hearing was noted on the January sewer bills, put on the City’s website, and posted at City Hall.  The Public Hearing was held at the regular City Council meeting on January 21, 2014.  Two people attended and testified.  The rate increase structure was passed by the City Council on that date.