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3% water rate hike approved for Colby

Slightly higher water rates have gone into effect for city of Colby residents, after the Wisconsin Public Service Commission approved a 3 percent hike proposed by the city council earlier this year.

The cost per 1,000 gallons of water has gone from $4.95 to $5.10, a 15-cent increase, for the 10,000 gallons of water used by each customer in a month. In addition, the monthly meter charge has increased from $11 to $11.33 for residentialsized meters.

For a household that uses 3,000 gallons per month, this will result in a total increase of 48 cents per month, from $25.85 to $26.33.

Commercial water customers with a one-inch meter will see their water bills go from $112.82 to $116.25, based on an average use of 19,300 gallons per month.

The new rates went into effect on April 15, based on the PSC’s approval. The agency says the new rates will generate about $12,000 more in annual revenue for the water utility.

Colby’s last water rate increase was in 2009, when an 80 percent hike was required to provide the utility with enough operating revenue.

Before the council voted to apply for this latest increase back in February, Mayor Jim Schmidt said the city’s auditors recommended a new rate increase as part of the 2018 audit.

At a budget hearing last November, city clerk Connie Gurtner said a 3 percent rate increase would generate about $5,000 more in annual revenue for the water utility, which has seen its fund balance depleted in recent years due to several infrastructure projects.

Going forward, she said the utility will also take on more annual debt payments once the city’s TIF district closes.