Agua SUD to vote on water rate increase

Next month, the Agua Special Utility District board of directors may vote on increasing water rates for the next five years.

During their Monday board meeting, the directors listened to a presentation from Jeff G. Snowden, president of the Frisco-based Capex Consulting Group.

AguaSUDLogoThe presentation was an update on an August workshop where Snowden recommended the board begin increasing water rates by a little over a dollar every year for the next five years, a move Snowden still recommended.

“You have a growing system, adding roughly 210 water accounts per year and we’re about to add significantly more with the connection to the Mission wastewater sewer system,” Snowden told the board. “Now is the time to start to gradually make changes to your rates. You don’t want to give your customers rate shock, but you do want your revenues ahead of your expenses.”

Under the proposed rate, Agua customers will pay $26.24 for water a month at the end of the five years.
The increase would begin with an increase of a $1.08 in the first year of the rate increase. Right now, residents pay $20.04 for water, Snowden said.

For sewer services, which Agua charges $20.84, Snowden recommended an increase of $1.54 in its first year before ultimately increasing to $28.50 per month by 2023.

Snowden assured the boar these rates would still be among the lowest in the Valley

“At the end of [five years] you’ll have a cash flow that will pay your debt and operations, leaving you a bumper for the end of the year but you will not be a big cash generator,” Snowden said. “Once the recommendations are implemented each year, you’ll be able to meet your expenses, pay off all your debt and have a modest amount leftover-about $400,000, for your capital projects. The system will also end up with a modest surplus preparing it for emergencies.”

The board will potentially vote on this increase on their next meeting slated for Tuesday, Dec. 11. Agua General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz said the rate increase will go into effect the month after the board votes on it., adding that the board could decide to vote for it in January.

Director Homer Tijerina, who represents the county on the Agua board, wondered if customers could afford a rate increase.

“We see 550 disconnections per month and that could go higher with a higher rate,” Tijerina said. “I still think we can cut expenses to ease a need for an increase. To pick up these rates would hurt our ratepayers.”

Saenz expressed confidence in the board approving the rate increase.

“This is all about ratepayers and making sure we can maintain rates that they can sustain and pay for,” Saenz said after the meeting. “Overall the increase is only going a dollar a year, that’s very minimal to pay for our services. We’re comfortable with these prices.”

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