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Thursday, March 11, 2021

City announces proposed water and sewer rates for 2022

Staff will propose 2022 water and sewer rates to City Council at its March 15 meeting. Proposed 2022 rates will add a little over $4 per month to the average customer’s bill compared to 2021 rates. Policy adjustments, including deferring portions of the Capital Improvement Program, reduced the proposed rates below previous projections. 

“We’ve heard the concerns from our community about water rates loud and clear,” said Larry Dorr, Westminster’s Chief Financial Officer. “We sharpened our pencil to propose the lowest sustainable rates that still support safe and reliable water and wastewater services.”

Cost-saving measures proposed by staff earlier this year include:

  • Adjusting projected infrastructure bond repayment periods to 30 years and projected bond interest rates to 3%, saving $200 million over 20 years;
  • Using $11 million from the Rate Stabilization Reserve toward future expenses;
  • Deferring $435 million in infrastructure investments over the next twenty years; and 
  • Reducing the annual transfer from the Utility to the General Fund.

When developing the 2022 rate recommendation, the WATER2025 project remained the city’s highest priority. WATER2025 is the replacement of the 50-year-old Semper Water Treatment Facility. A new facility is needed to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water, especially if the city’s watershed is contaminated by runoff from a wildfire or other event. The new facility will also be less expensive to operate and maintain than the existing Semper Facility. 

The proposed 2022 rates include $71 million in drinking water projects and $10 million in sewer projects. 

“We are deferring projects to reduce costs while prioritizing WATER2025,” said Public Works Director Max Kirschbaum. “WATER2025 is the single most important water project for this city in 50 years and will ensure safe drinking water for Westminster families for generations to come.”

Residents are encouraged to provide feedback and ask questions about the rate-setting process at www.westywaterrates.us
The city offers several bill assistance and discounted conservation programs. Residents can learn more about these programs at www.cityofwestminster.us/waterbillassistance

Last summer, City Council decided not to increase water or sewer rates for 2021 to respond to the economic impacts of the pandemic.
 

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