102°F
weather icon Clear

Officials address residents’ utility rate-hike concerns

The city’s implementation of higher utility rates caused concern and confusion among many Boulder City residents, leading city officials to set up a utility workshop Oct. 5 to ease some of the tension.

The two-hour event was packed with residents seeking clarity on the rate hikes, with questions ranging from how much their bills would increase to how the extra money in the utility fund will be used to help the city.

City officials set up seven stations to help residents understand each aspect of the increases to electric, water and sewer rates. Residents will see the new rates on their November bills.

The City Council in May approved a 17 percent increase in water and sewer rates and 16 percent in electric, with subsequent increases planned.

City Manager David Fraser said the workshop was an opportunity for residents to learn more about their upcoming bills. The public’s perception of the workshop and the rate hikes was mixed, with residents’ emotions ranging from acceptance to frustration.

Boulder City resident Samantha Prestwich said higher rates were desperately needed to repair the city’s aging infrastructure.

“I don’t have a problem with the rate increases,” Prestwich said. “They are a good way to pay for a new electrical system, which we desperately need.

The city’s six electrical substations have an average age of 45 years, according to a 2012 study on Boulder City’s power grid by Science Applications International. The study recommended a utility rate increase because the rate of depreciation of the utility system was increasing faster than the city’s ability to afford the necessary repairs.

The city is setting up a 10-year plan that, if completed, will replace all the old transformers and substations, according to Public Works Director Scott Hansen.

Prestwich was not the only resident who said the city was doing the right thing by increasing rates.

Douglas Gerwitz said people who want a modern utility system have to pay for it.

“Maintenance costs money and without the new rates we are not going to have enough money to fix the problems with our systems. The city is just responding to a community need,” Gerwitz said. “Everyone I know who was complaining about the rate increases was not at this workshop and they were not at any of the council meetings about it, so they really have no reason to complain.”

Not everyone in attendance was happy about the rate increases. Dennis Maring said he did not trust the City Council and city officials to properly use the income generated by the higher rates.

“These people don’t know anything about running a utilities company,” Maring said. “We are supposed to trust the council when we have no money for utilities on reserve and no one to regulate the council?”

The city is working on a plan to put money into a utilities reserve fund and currently has a small amount on hand, Hansen said.

Many residents worried that the extra money in the utility fund was going to be used to pay for increased consumption by potential new-home developments in areas like Bristlecone Drive near the golf course, which would add 200-plus homes to Boulder City, or the 640 acres in Eldorado Valley that developer Randy Schams hopes to develop.

Hansen said he does not think the new homes will increase costs because the city estimates no more than 1 percent growth over the next 10 years.

“The 200 homes on Bristlecone are not that much to increase costs and when we created our plan we estimated little to no growth in the city,” Hansen said. “Our plan is to fix our utilities and that is what the money in the utility fund will go to.”

Contact reporter Max Lancaster at mlancaster@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow him on Twitter @MLancasterBCR.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Fire department targets sites to improve response times

Two locations are being targeted for a new Boulder City Fire substation that the City Council approved last month to help the department improve response time to emergencies. The proposed new fire station, labeled Station 122, is looking at sites at Quartzite Road and Nevada Way as well as at 701 Adams Boulevard. The city owns land in both locations.

Ex-manager sues city; claims retaliation

Former City Manager Al Noyola filed a lawsuit against the city Friday, July 29, alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was fired Oct. 13, 2020.

School begins Monday

School is almost back in session for the quartet of schools in Boulder City.

Storms cause minor damage

Monsoon season brought damage to Boulder City as the town was hit with a collection of storms last week. Luckily, the city was able to handle the storms in an efficient manner, according to officials, who dealt with the typical gravel and rock erosion, power outages and roof leaks.

Lend A Hand awarded $101K from state

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of Nevada has awarded $30 million in Community Recovery Grants to nonprofit organizations including Lend A Hand of Boulder City. The local organization was one of the 30-plus applicants that received money funded by American Rescue Act Plan dollars.

Drought drives tough talks to cut water use

Nevada and two of its neighboring Southwestern states are still working on ways to drastically cut water use from the Colorado River as a deadline set by the federal government to address the worsening conditions along the river quickly approaches.

House passes bill with help for Lake Mead

WASHINGTON — Sweeping legislation to provide $500 million to raise plunging water levels in Lake Mead and Lake Powell passed Friday, July 29, in the House despite Republican opposition over concerns for farmers and ranchers.

Kayaker drowns at Lake Mead

A 31-year-old man drowned at Lake Mead National Recreation Area near SCUBA Beach on Wednesday evening after he went into the water to retrieve a loose inflatable kayak, according to the National Park Service.

More remains found at Lake Mead

As water levels continue to decrease, another body has been discovered at Lake Mead. National Park Service rangers responded to a witness report of human remains spotted at Swim Beach in the Boulder Basin area of the lake at 4:30 p.m. Monday, July 25.

Water district targets pool sizes to aid conservation

As water managers grapple with shortages across the Southwest, pool sizes in the Las Vegas Valley are the next target slated for cuts.