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La Veta hears comments on new water rate structure

by Carol Dunn
LA VETA — The La Veta Town Board held a public hearing on March 27 to unveil its proposed new water rate structure, which one audience member characterized as “ingenious.” The new rates will replace a tiered system that has been in place for many years, and they are designed to “make it equitable for all,” as Mayor Don Keairns put it.
The new rates combine an across-the-board monthly payment to cover the fixed costs of producing water, including the current and pending debt service ($21.18), plus a monthly fee to cover depreciation ($5.00), plus $3.00 per thousand gallons of water, with no minimum. As Mayor-elect Jerry Fitzgerald demonstrated for the audience, some year-round residents may actually see their water bills go down.
La Veta has 70 seasonal water customers, who turn their water off when they leave for the season, and incur a charge of about $6.00 per month until they return. Kearins said, “We thought everybody should have to pay the $21.18, whether they turn off their water or not.” The $5.00 per month depreciation fee is anticipated to bring in $170,000 over four years. That money would be available for capital improvements and unexpected repairs.
Fitzgerald said, “If we don’t read the meters, then you don’t pay.” Users will not be charged for a base or minimum, only for the cumulative number of gallons used when the meter is read. He added, “This pay-as-you-use system makes the meter-reading problems go away.”
The new rate structure is based on 710 EQRs on the town system that used 42 million gallons of water in 2011. Taps with multiple EQRs will have multiple fixed costs and depreciation (# EQRs x $26.18) but will only be charged for the actual number of gallons of water used.
The board is motivated to get the new rate structure enacted, because the town cannot proceed with getting a loan for lake repairs until they do. Fitzgerald said the town must show that $283,754 in fixed costs will be raised before it is eligible for the loan.

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