OGDEN -- One local activist says Ogden's upcoming water rate increase could be higher than advertised.
Ogden resident Dan Schroeder, who has been following the city's utility rate study since last fall, says a careful examination of a recently released report on the city's utility system shows that upcoming rate increases set to take place in July could be more than $600,000 higher than what has been publicly indicated.
The report, which was prepared by Salt Lake City consulting firm Lewis, Young, Robertson & Burningham and was presented to the city council on May 1, states that the city needs to generate $14.93 million in revenue in fiscal year 2013 to pay for needed water infrastructure.
The revenue would be generated from changes in water base rates and water usage charges.
In an executive summary of the report, LYRB states that while rate increases would vary among users based on meter size, usage and whether a resident has secondary water, the $14.93 million in needed revenue for fiscal year 2013 could be generated with an overall rate increase of 7.8 percent during that year.
But Schroeder points out the report includes a projection that shows water sales during the fiscal year 2013 could produce up to $15.56 million, based on recommended changes to base rates and variable usage costs.
If $15.56 million is generated, the overall rate increase compared to current rates would be 13.2 percent. The current fiscal year revenue from water sales is budgeted at $13.74 million.
"It's misleading to say the overall increase will be only 7.8 percent, when their own numbers show it could be higher," Schroeder said.
LYRB's Cody Deeter said the $15.56 million projection errs on the high side because, otherwise, revenue could come in lower than expected and the city would need to adjust rates upward in future years above what is currently anticipated.
"(15.56 million) is what we predict as the most likely high side of revenue that could be generated," Deeter said.
Deeter also said the financial analysis will be updated annually to account for changes in revenue and expenditures that might occur each year. If the city did generate revenue above what is needed to cover the infrastructure improvements, rates could be lowered in following years.
Schroeder also questioned the report's projections because they were based on water usage data from 2011, which was unseasonably wet.
Deeter said it's impossible to know exactly how water patterns will change year to year and he believes the report is an accurate portrayal of what estimated water use will be.