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Camp Verde could raise wastewater fee

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Camp Verde residents could see a slight increase in their wastewater bill, but the public will have a chance to weigh in this spring.
Camp Verde Town Council has set a public hearing to discuss the rate increase for March 21.
 
Town Manager Russ Martin said this was simply a notice of intent and that nothing has been set in stone. He also clarified that there would be no property tax increase.
“Nor will there be one in the foreseeable future in regards to the wastewater department,” he said.
 
During a work session Jan. 10, Dan Jackson, vice president of water management company Willdan, presented council with a presentation overviewing a rate study conducted by the company. Camp Verde has used Willdan as a source for rate services for the past 10 years. Willdan has also done similar studies for around 35 cities all over Arizona and throughout the country.
 
The last study completed for the Camp Verde Wastewater District was conducted in 2007; since then, there have been no rate increases.
Jackson said the average utility rate has been increasing 5 to 6 percent annually to cover unavoidable maintenance and repair costs.
 
In order to receive the $2.5 million Water/Wastewater Infrastructure Finance Authority bond the town has applied for, the agency must be assured that Camp Verde rates can fund the repayment of the loan application, Martin said.
 
“Without a rate increase, the revenues for the current year will be in the negative,” he said.
 
The Town of Camp Verde does not control the water utility and rates are based on per fixture/per household fee structure. Currently, town rates are slightly higher than the state average, but lower than surrounding town and cities, according to a 2018 Willdan study.
 
Camp Verde residents currently pay an average of $40.50 a month for their wastewater bill. The Arizona state average is $36.18, according to the study.
 
The majority of wastewater accounts served by the town are residential accounts. Right now, there are 957 residential and 74 active commercial customers using the utility with forecasts of growth.
 
Jackson recommended that council consider adopting a multiyear rate plan to allow future plans to be adjusted by account increase or equipment repair.
 
“A rate increase will allow the Town of Camp Verde to cover all costs of providing wastewater to ensure the financial health of the wastewater utility,” Jackson said.
 
The 2018 Wastewater Rate Study is available for public viewing at on the Camp Verde town website per state law.
 
Kelcie Grega can be reached at 634-8551, or email kgrega@larsonnewspapers.com

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