Rates could go up for water, sewer and trash services in Casper, but residents still have a chance to weigh-in on the issue before city leaders make a decision.
A public hearing on the matter will be held during the City Council’s meeting tonight.
“They’re reasonable rate increases that are necessary to continue to run the city’s business,” said Councilman Dallas Laird, adding that it’s been a few years since the city raised any of these costs.
Although he thinks the bump-ups are necessary, Laird said he hopes residents will share their opinions at the hearing.
City staff is recommending that monthly residential trash collection fees increase by 5 percent on May 1 and then again by 3 percent on Jan. 1, according to a memo from the Public Services Department. For the average residential customer the increase would be 76 cents and then 48 cents, respectively.
Commercial trash collection would increase by 6 percent on May 1 and then again by the same amount in January.
“Costs continue to rise in these operations due to rising costs in truck and equipment replacement and health insurance premiums,” states the memo.
The Public Utilities Advisory Board also recently advised the city to increase retail water rates by 2 percent and retail sewer rates by 6 percent on May 1. The board said this would bump up the average residential customer’s monthly water bill by 89 cents and monthly sewage bill by $1.30.
The board suggested that additional increases of 1 percent and 7 percent, respectively, should take effect next January.
City Manager Carter Napier previously told the Star-Tribune that the dates are tentative, but he believes the increases are necessary.
The city’s regional water supplier routinely raises its prices so the city needs to charge more to keep up, he explained. And the increased rate for sewer services could help fix equipment at the Sam H. Hobbs Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The plant, which was built in 1958, provides wastewater treatment services to approximately 69,000 people throughout Casper, Bar Nunn, Evansville, Mills and other smaller entities in the regional wastewater system.
CH2M Hill engineering, which was hired by the city last year to analyze the facility’s condition, told Casper officials in October that the plant needs about $5 million in mechanical and structural upgrades. The plant has a variety of problems, including corroding concrete, leaking walls and aging pumps, mixers and pipes.
The engineering company also advised starting a $20 million expansion project in 2023 to ensure that the plant can keep up with increasing flows and anticipated regulatory changes, such as requirements to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from the water.
Although the increased rate for sewer services won’t fund the overall project, Napier said it can help some of the more urgent repairs.
“We’ve got to start making those repairs that are more of an immediate nature,” he said.