Gypsum will launch six-year, 6% sewer rate increases starting in 2020 | VailDaily.com

Gypsum will launch six-year, 6% sewer rate increases starting in 2020

It has been nearly 20 years since the town's last sewer rate increase

Gypsum estimates expansion of its wastewater treatment plant will cost between $22 million and $36 million. Starting in 2020, the town will increase monthly sewer fees by 6% in anticipation of the project.
Daily file photo

GYPSUM — Gypsum residents will be paying $1.44 more per month for sewer service beginning Jan. 1 — the first year in a six-year rate increase plan as the community contemplates expansion of its wastewater treatment capacity.

Gypsum Town Manager Jeremy Rietmann said the six year, 6% increase plan will up monthly residential charges to $25.44. The commercial base rate will increase to $39.33.

“All of this is in preparation for some pretty significant capital costs,” Rietmann said.

The definition of  “pretty significant” is still evolving. As the town launches its study and planning for expanded wastewater treatment, the potential costs range from $22 million to $36 million over the next 10 to 15 years.

“We are trying to be prudent with our planning because if you start saving early, you are much better off in the long-term,” Rietmann said.

A long time coming

Jim Hancock, the town engineer and assistant town manager, noted it has been nearly 20 years since Gypsum’s last sewer rate increase. “And even after six years of increasing it, our base residential rate will not be as high as our neighboring communities are now,’ Hancock added.

The new rates will also contain provisions for businesses and residents who have a bigger impact on the town’s sewer system. While sewer use isn’t metered, water use is and the town will institute extra sewer charges for people who use larger amounts of water.

In Gypsum, 15,000 gallons are included in the base water rate. “In order to account for some of the costs of processing extra wastewater, we will be charging an additional $6 per every 1,000 gallons beyond the 15,000-gallon base amount,” Rietmann explained.

The town will base the extra charges on average winter use so businesses and homes will not be penalized for summer irrigation.

“The idea is to keep it real, so to speak. We want to charge a fair price and not gouge the users,” Hancock said. “Also, for many of the really high uses, their up-front tap fees matched their estimated usage.”

Rietmann and Hancock noted the Gypsum Town Council’s stated goal with the new wastewater treatment system is to minimize impact to existing townspeople. But a combination of rate increases and debt service will be needed to finance the plant expansion.

“The goal will be that over the next six years, as we learn more about our system, we will get closer and closer to what the future increase will be,” Rietmann said. “We will continue to work on our models and tighten it up. But we know we are going to have to raise money.”

The Gypsum Town Council is expected to take final action on the proposed sewer rate increase at its Jan. 14 meeting.