The Kalispell City Council will vote next month on a gradual increase in water rates and sewer rates, which the public works department says is necessary to maintain current operations and finance upcoming capital improvements.
If approved, residents will pay more for water and sewer services beginning with their July 2020 bill, and an additional rate hike would be imposed annually through the 2026-27 fiscal year. An average water bill would rise by 55.6% and a sewer bill would jump 103.8% over the course of the next seven years, according to a mailer sent to affected residents earlier this month. The water rate would spike by 16.5% in 2020, followed by more modest bumps the following six years. Similarly, the sewer rate would rise 49.4% this year, then experience a less than 7% increase annually though 2026-27.
The sprinkling/irrigation rate is also slated to change. Those charges, which are currently lower than the normal consumption rate, would no longer be discounted.
In the same proposal, water and wastewater impact fees — one-time charges imposed when new services are requested from the city, primarily for new development — are recommended for a significant decrease. Impact fees are calculated based on meter size, and fees for a 3/4-inch meter would drop from $2,567 to $1,900 in July 2020. Other meter sizes will experience an even sharper decrease, with rates for a 4-inch meter dropping from $41,072 to $20,254 this year. Impact fees would then rise gradually over the following six years but still be below the current level in 2026-27.
The proposed changes are based on recommendations by HDR Engineering, a consultant hired by the city to “perform a comprehensive water and wastewater rate study,” according to an executive summary released by HDR in January. The reports created by HDR and additional information on the proposed changes can be viewed online at kalispell.com/561/water-and-wastewater-rate-study and kalispell.com/261/impact-fees.
Water rates were last increased in 2013, and sewer rates last saw a bump in 2014.
A public hearing to discuss the proposed changes will be held on Monday, March 2 at 7 p.m. at City Hall in the council chambers. Those unable to attend the hearing can deliver written comments to the City Clerk or email firstname.lastname@example.org before March 2. More information on the changes is available at kalispell.com/CivicAlerts.aspx?AID=178 or by calling the public works department at (406) 758-7720.