Kalispell Approves Water Rate Hike

The council voted unanimously to raise the utility rate in response to high inflationary costs; rate is effective on Sept. 1

By Maggie Dresser
Kalispell City Hall. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Kalispell City Council on Monday voted unanimously to amend a resolution to raise water rates for utility customers in response to high inflationary costs, which will be effective on Sept. 1.

Depending on the number of gallons of water consumed per month, the rate hike will add between $2.85 and $11.67 to customers’ monthly bills in the first year, followed by incremental rate hikes through fiscal year 2027.

Kalispell Public Works Director Susie Turner said at the Aug. 7 meeting that the amendment is necessary to keep up with inflationary costs for routine maintenance and operational services, planned capital improvement projects and requirements to maintain the city’s debt service coverage.

“The proposed rate increase will provide the necessary capital monies to meet those challenges and maintain water services to sustain the delivery of safe and healthy water to the residents of Kalispell,” Turner said.

According to the resolution, typical winter consumption for households ranges from 1,000 gallons to 6,000 gallons per month while summer consumption is almost three times higher.

With the new amendment, an average Kalispell resident who uses 6,000 gallons per month with a current monthly water bill of $32.06 will pay a $36.87 monthly bill starting in September. By July 2027, that resident will pay a monthly bill of $47.98.

Rates were last adjusted in 2020 and were designed to be in place until 2027. However, increased inflationary costs have led city officials to amend the rates. The previous rate hike resolution drew criticism from some councilors and residents because it simultaneously decreased impact fees for developers.

The city received 15 total comments about the rate proposals prior to the council meeting, with 13 against the increase, one person who was neutral and another who supported the hike.

Councilors unanimously supported the rate hikes but acknowledged that the decision was difficult.

“This isn’t fun to sit up here and hear about those that aren’t going to be able to go through and afford this,” Councilor Chad Graham said.

“I think having clean water is very important for our city and despite it being a hard decision, I will be supporting this,” Councilor Jessica Dahlman said.