Many Camp Verde wastewater customers were dumbfounded when the May 2018 sewer bills arrived. An increase had been rumored but why, we asked, had our rates jumped so high? As the dust settles, there are more questions than answers.
The first question that looms is, “Is it right that a person living alone in a modest neighborhood is paying $94 per month to flush his toilets?”
I would like to share what I have learned about the Camp Verde sewer rates:
• Sewer rates are set by the Town Council, with input from Town Finance and the Wastewater Division.
• Customer fees (assessments) are the sole revenue to meet Wastewater Budget needs.
• Our Town uses the Current-Rate-Multiplied-by-the-Fixture-Count-Method to determine fees. It is not the actual Fixture Count that is used but each Fixture’s value derived from the Uniform Plumbing Code. By this method, one commode counts as four fixtures.
Most other plumbing fixtures count as two fixtures! So, a household with two bathrooms, a kitchen sink, and a washing machine might have eight actual fixtures but be assessed for 18.
The sewer rate, currently $2.52, is then multiplied by the revised number of fixtures to determine the fees. For example, eighteen fixtures x the $2.52 rate = $45.
It is easy to see that, by this method, a widow or retired couple still living in a large family home with four bathrooms could be paying almost $100 per month for sewer!
I ask you, which is the greater “drain” on the sewer system – one person living in a home with four bathrooms or four people living in a home with one bathroom? Which generates the greater number of flushes per day? Or loads of laundry per week?
So the question should not be, “Is it right that one person is paying $94 per month?” but rather “How can we change this method so that some customers are not so severely and unfairly impacted?” Perhaps, the number of adults using the fixtures in a household should be factored in. Or a cap should be placed on assessments. Or a flat fee used. Please raise your voices and pens.
Incidentally the sewer rates, by the present system, will continue to rise over the next four years. The rates will rise to $3.14 per fixture by 2022. The person now paying $94 will then be paying $116!.
The next big question, much more complex and a separate subject, is “Why is the Ghost of the Old Sanitary District still haunting Wastewater customers … and where did the Sanitary District DEBT come from?” Most of us in the Wastewater Division are also still in the Sanitary District, which ran sewer operations before the Wastewater Division was created in 2013. It exists now, only on paper, until its DEBT is paid off in 2032. Twenty-three percent of our Yavapai County Property Tax is a Sanitary District assessment. Why are some of us paying and paying and paying?
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