KRWG

Las Cruces Water Rate Review Meetings On Tap

Sep 14, 2018

Over the next 3 weeks the City of Las Cruces Utility Customer Advisory Group (UCAG) will host 5 open houses, 2 lunchtime presentations, a Farmers Market booth, and 2 public meetings to discuss a wastewater rate review that will likely result in a wastewater rate increase. All presentations will take place between September 18th and October 3rd.

The wastewater rate review conducted by an independent consultant (Stantec Consulting Services, Inc.) highlights that current costs for providing sanitary sewer service and treating and disinfecting 3.3 billion gallons of wastewater annually significantly exceeds the revenue derived from the rates implemented 9 years ago and Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) must increase rates.

The three options being presented by the UCAG:

• a phased-in cost increase over two years,

•  a phased-in cost increase over three years, or

• full implementation of new rates in one year.

With input from the public, the UCAG Ad Hoc Committee sends its recommendation to the LCU Board of Commissioners (Board). The Board then sends its recommendation to City Council, which makes the final decision.

“We want to present and discuss the details of the costs involved in providing these services to all the homes and businesses in Las Cruces and get feedback from customers,” explained Eugene Suttmiller, chair of the UCAG Ad Hoc Committee. “It’s been almost a decade since the last wastewater rate increase, and now LCU has a shortfall of nearly $4.2 million annually and needs to recover from customers the appropriate revenue to meet expenses.”

Wastewater costs, with a growing city using more wastewater services, along with regular maintenance and operation of the systems, rose over the past 9 years. LCU is NOT funded by tax dollars and only through monthly billing can the utility recover the cost of providing services to customers.  

Presentations will take place at multiple locations:

  1. Five Open Houses from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. are scheduled at:
    1. City Hall Lobby – Tuesday, September 18th.
    2. LCU Building Conference Room Lobby – Wednesday, September 19th.
    3. Thomas Branigan Memorial Library, Roadrunner Room – Monday, September 24th.
    4. Lynn Middle School – Tuesday, September 25th.
    5. East Mesa Public Safety Complex – Wednesday, September 26th.
  2. Lunchtime presentations from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to connect with seniors will be held at:
    1. The Munson Senior Center – Wednesday, September 19th.
    2. The Frank O’Brien Papen Center – Tuesday, September 25th.
  3. A booth at the Farmer’s Market, near Coas Bookstore – Saturday, September 22nd from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  4. The final two Public Meetings from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. will take place at:
    1. City Hall Council Chambers on – Tuesday, October 2nd.
    2. LCU Building Board Room 225 – Wednesday, October 3rd.

Whether it’s phased-in or implemented in one step, the Wastewater Rate Review will likely result in approximately a $5.51 monthly increase in wastewater bills (from $16.15 to $21.66) for the average residential wastewater customers.

All documents associated with the rate review process are located at www.las-cruces.org, and then simply search for “UCAG.” Customers may also email the UCAG Committee at ucag@las.cruces.org.

Submitted by Las Cruces Utilities at 528-3500 from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Las Cruces Utilities provides GAS – WATER – WASTEWATER – SOLID WASTE services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.