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Slight or not, all in the way you see it

Last week West Fargo Commissioners approved first reading of a water rate increase for residential and commercial users set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2008. A second hike will take the rate up even more on Jan. 1, 2009.

I referred to the rate as a 'slight increase,' soliciting some much welcomed email responses questioning the use of the word slight.

If the ordinance receives second and final reading, the current minimum service charge of $7 for the first 2,000 gallons of water used will remain the same. The change will be with additional water usage over the 2,000 gallon base amount, which will go from $3.50 to $4 per 1,000 gallons of water used over the 2,000 gallons on Jan. 1, 2008; and from $4 to $4.50 per 1,000 gallons of water used over the 2,000 amount on Jan. 1, 2009.

This will equate to an approximate 9 percent increase for the average residence that uses 15,000-16,000 gallons of water monthly, i.e. a $6.50 increase on their overall monthly utility statement. Those that use under the minimum amount will see no increase at all.

The sanitation rates will not be affected in any way and will remain the same.

City officials opted for the increase during 2008 budget discussions in order to make the water and sanitation department budgets self-sustaining, since expenses have to match revenues.

The move will generate an approximate additional $750,000 in revenues to cover new debt service payments for revenue bonds used to fund replacement of the city's sanitary lift stations.

Compared to the hike two years ago that saw rates go up almost 50 percent for the average residential user, this is a slight increase. In fact, statistics show that West Fargo has the third lowest residential water rate of the large cities in the three-state region of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.