2022 Water Rate Study & Feedback

Short Summary added 9/17/22:

👉 Find the study and more information below

 💲 If approved, for the average home on City Water, the bill would increase by approximately $20/month. By national standards, this would still be considered affordable.  
🗣The Water Rate Public Hearing during this Tuesday's council meeting at 7:30 is dedicated to public comments and questions. 
🚧 Our state grant and loan agencies have said that a rate increase is required to receive funds. Without additional funds, we cannot repair our infrastructure or run the pre-treatment plant. 

A water rate study was conducted because the City of Rawlins wants to provide better water infrastructure and service to our community. We all deserve to have a reliable water system and to have the cost of service divided fairly. 

Our water service is an enterprise fund, meaning it is a fee-based service separate from the General Fund, similar to running a business. The General Fund is where the majority of City income goes, such as sales tax. If there is not enough money available in the water enterprise fund for infrastructure updates, necessary equipment, and sufficient staffing, our water service quality is reduced.

When can I hear from the rate specialist? 

We have hired Rate Specialist Carl Brown to evaluate and propose rate changes for our water enterprise fund. Mr. Brown will be presenting at a City Council workshop on September 6th, 2022 at 6:00 pm about his findings and recommendations. The public is welcome to attend in person or to watch it remotely on YouTube during or after the presentation. At future meetings, City Council will discuss rates, hear from the public, and make any potential changes. All rate changes are controlled by resolution and must be approved by City Council. 

What is a "cost-to-serve" rate?

The proposed rate is called a "cost-to-serve" rate. The "cost-to-serve" system adjusts rates so that those who have more water capacity provided pay more. This higher rate for more capacity, provided by larger meters, applies to initial tap fees and to base monthly charges. This is the industry standard, so when the customer is provided with larger services, they pay the utility for those associated costs.

A "cost-to-serve" rate is created by assessing the expenses necessary to transport, treat, and deliver treated drinking water to the tap. This includes things such as the maintenance of source and in-town infrastructure, personnel, operation of the pre-treatment and treatment plant, supplies and materials, equipment, and more. These costs were analyzed by Mr. Brown and staff to more accurately predict the funding needed to care for our entire treated-water system properly. 

Are the new rates affordable?

The study also looked at the affordability of our water rates compared to the national standard and average. This states that water is affordable if the median household in our area pays 1% or less of their income for water service. With our current rates, the cost calculated was 0.51%, and with the proposed rate the new cost calculated was 0.79%. Although the proposed rates do include a large increase, by nationwide standards, we would still be less than the national average. 

Affordability Index

Can we wait for grants and loans to come through?

The State Land and Investment Board (SLIB), which oversees most of the available state and federal water funding, has stated that Rawlins needs to raise rates in order to qualify for grants.  

The City of Rawlins has already secured almost $3.5 million in funding and has an additional $9.5 million in grants currently in process, as well as reviewing other potential grants.  However, with an estimated $20 million total project cost, it is likely that some loans will need to be secured. Loan Applications also require proof of the ability to repay the money lent to the City. The proposed rate increase includes annual loan payments for necessary infrastructure repairs. 

Want to review the study? 

Find the full 107-page study here!

Here are some highlights you may want to check out: 

  • Executive Summary: page 4 
  • Current Rates: page 6
  • Three Models Created Overview: page 7 
  • Recommended Rate Structures: page 11 * Almost all homes are in a .625 or .750 meter. Businesses may be on a larger meter. Meter sizes are included on the meter sizes mailing at the end of August or you can email utilityclerk@rawlinswy.gov
  • Operating Costs - Past and Expected: page 15 
  • Rate Affordability Assessment: page 18
  • Rates Proposed: page 21 
  • Rate Analysis, explained in a nutshell: page 29 
  • Factors that Influence Rate Analysis (Types of Costs, Capacity Costs, Future Costs Projections, Reserves): page 29 
  • Two Final Thoughts: page 35 

Want to share your feedback on the proposal with Council and Staff? 

Visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2022rawlinsratefeedback or contact Community Relations. Contact information for all council members individually is also listed at www.rawlinswy.gov/council