What Gunnison residents pay for sewer will soon depend on water use

 

Robert Stevens

Managing editor

4-20-2017

 

GUNNISON—What comes in must go out.

That was the Gunnison City Council’s rational when they decided to move forward with a proposal to change the city sewer rates to a tiered rate system tied to the recently-increased culinary water overage tiers.

Gunnison City Councilman Blane Jensen suggested the city move away from a flat fee ($16) for sewer rates and use a tiered system tied to culinary water usage.

Gunnison City Accountant Gary Keddington said, “There are lots of communities that tie their sewer system to their water rate system, with the thought that whatever water is coming into the house is probably going down the sewer as well. The high users of the water tend to be the high users of the sewer. Tying them together could make things more equitable.”

Not doing so, Keddington continued, would mean people could dump as much into the sewer system as they wanted with no extra cost.

“They could dump a million gallons of whatever they wanted down there and the way it is now, they’d still just pay $16,” he said. “If we tied the systems together, we could even make it less expensive for the lower users. The very high users would make up the difference, and it would be fairer because they are the ones who are using so much more of the system’s capacity.”

“It does make sense to tie them together,” Councilman Blake Donaldson said. “What goes in must come out.”

Gunnison’s culinary water rates have six tiers of overage rates that apply to residents who use more than the 4,000 gallons of water allotted in the base monthly rate of $33.

“You would have to come up with a cost structure for the sewer overages, but it could be based upon the same gallon usage as the culinary overage tiers,” Jensen said.

Mayor Bruce Blackham and Councilmember Robert Anderson both agreed it was a good idea.

“This is really the direction we need to head in, “Anderson said, “a situation where things are equitable.”

The council asked Keddington to look into what kind of fee structure would achieve the results the change was intended to have.

The council will revisit the matter at its next meeting.