Plan to pay more for city water and sewer service in February.
The Durango City Council approved the rate increases in December to help fund major improvements to the city’s water and sewer infrastructure.
The sewer plant in particular needs about $55 million in upgrades to meet state standards.
“It has to be upgraded to keep us in good standing with the state of Colorado,” Mayor Sweetie Marbury said.
The average household’s total increase for water and sewer services will be about $22.60 per month in the winter. Sewer services will increase on average 64 percent, from $21.39 to $35.13 per month. The average household’s water rate will increase 37 percent, from $24.23 per month to an estimated $33.13.
Additional increases likely will be rolled out over the next several years as the city works to raise enough revenue to pay for infrastructure needs.
The rollout of rate increases over time was particularly important to Marbury to help avoid sticker shock.
“We have to be able to afford to live here as retired people and young working families,” she said.
Consultants recommended the city grow the sewer fund by 25 percent in both 2016 and 2017, which would require additional rate increases for residents.
Similarly, water fund revenue needs to increase by 32 percent in 2016, according to a rate study consultants completed for the City Council.
Any future increases will have to be approved by the City Council and go through a public hearing process.
“Residents will have the opportunity to weigh in,” said Mary Beth Miles, assistant to the city manager.
To phase in rate increases over time, the city deferred millions in infrastructure maintenance. For example, the city started with a list of $16 million of water improvements this fall. The list was whittled down to about $2.59 million of improvements that will be finished in 2015, Miles said.