By Christina Calloway
Portales city councilors see no way around raising base rates for utilities for all residents to compensate for the new $27 million wastewater treatment plant and reuse center.
Councilors approved the Public Works Committee’s recommendation Tuesday to raise fees an additional $31.50 for all water customers, a change that is planned to begin Jan. 1. Base rates for water, sewage and trash services are currently about $50.
Officials said they know this won’t be a popular change.
“That’s per month? Wow,” said Councilor Dianne Parker about the recommendation.
A public hearing will be scheduled since the change will be made through city ordinance.
“I know for a lot of people $31 is a lot of money, but we don’t have a choice,” Councilor Keith Thomas said.
Public Works Director John DeSha said the plan is to work on educating the public of this change so it won’t be a surprise. He plans to put a notification on monthly bills, along with a sample bill to show residents how much the increase will be.
Thomas said Portales still has fairly low rates, even with the change, compared to other New Mexico communities.
“I don’t see many options. This is something we have to do,” Thomas said.
The council also approved the committee’s recommendation to increase the Roosevelt County Water Co-op’s monthly fee by $17,500. Hunton said the committee arrived at that figure by multiplying the number of residents with the co-op, about 1,400 customers, by the $12.50 base rate increase of the water service.
The water co-op is a water service that provides water to Roosevelt County residents who purchase water from the city.