Town water/sewer rates up for review

JACKSON, Wyo. – Probably every community across America takes water for granted. Water when you do the dishes, take a shower, flush the toilet.

But it takes a village…and water/sewer utility rates to make this happen. The Town of Jackson is in the midst of reexamining its system and rate structure, and your input is needed.

The Town of Jackson’s water system includes miles of pipe that delivers water from three tanks fed by eight groundwater wells. The wastewater treatment facility—built in 1970—enables the town to collect, treat and release five million gallons per day.

Late last year, Raftelis was hired to evaluate the town’s current rates and fees. Raftelis is an independent financial consultant specializing in water and wastewater rate and fee studies for communities and utilities across the country.

Work has been underway in designing a rate structure that:

  • Equitably recovers the cost of services, which balances multiple objectives, in proportion to the impact on service demands of customers.
  • It generates sufficient revenues through rates and fees to fully and sustainably support the Town’s water and wastewater utility systems.
  • Maintains affordable access to essential water and sewer services.

Community Involvement

The water rates study has benefitted from a group of residents and stakeholders who together form the Citizen Review Committee. This group of stakeholders represents a wide variety of customers. They met a half-dozen times to learn about the water and wastewater system, finances, concepts around rate setting methodology, and reviewing rate systems from similar communities across the Mountain West.

The insights they provide, and preferences they share, have contributed significantly to the consultant’s work designing a rate structure that is fair, equitable and maintains affordability.

Town staff expect to present the findings of the rate study and recommendations to town council later this summer. Before then, the community is invited to participate in one of two workshops to learn more about the process, provide feedback, and share perspectives.

Tuesday, June 30, 1:00-2:30 p.m. and 5:30-7:00 p.m. either at Town Hall (150 E. Pearl Ave.) or online. Both workshops will feature identical content. To participate virtually from the safety and comfort of your home, visit the town website (scroll and click on watch a meeting). A video of the workshops will be posted on the town website after the session.

Background on water rates studies

As an industry best practice, and to keep sufficient funding for critical infrastructure, water and wastewater utilities across the country periodically perform rate and fee studies. These studies:

  • Perform financial analysis on the utility’s cash flow and analyze outstanding debt
  • Incorporate current and future capital improvement and maintenance needs
  • Identify the cost of providing service for each customer type and group
  • Recommend updates to how and what utilities charge for service

In the next decade, the town plans to make significant system upgrades to keep high quality, reliable water flowing to homes and businesses. Among other projects, these improvements include adding another well and storage tank to the system and upgrading/replacing pipes and valves along Gregory Lane and North Millward.

Similarly, in the next 10-years, the town plans to invest in upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant to keep it functioning properly and protecting the environment.

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