49.7 F

TMWA Seeks Rate Adjustments, Open Houses Planned


The Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA) plans to adjust rates next year to close a funding gap between recurring revenue and cost of services, which is expected to reach $13 million in the next five years.

The funding proposals account for water revenue increases of three percent over last year’s drought levels from residential customers, along with estimated benefits from the refunding of 2007 bonds in 2017.

To close the gap and strengthen its financial metrics by maintaining a favorable credit rating, TMWA proposed two options:

  • Adjusting rates to meet current financial needs, but phasing in a rate increase to reduce the impact of one large adjustment, allowing time for economic conditions and TMWA financial metrics to improve. This would consist of rate increases of three percent for each of the first and second years and 2.5 percent in each of the third through fifth years.
  • Minimize the size of rate adjustments as much as possible when comparing the cost of service in the funding plan to proposed rates required. This would mean rate increases of three percent each of the first two years and increases commensurate with the Consumer Price Index for urban customers between one and three percent in the following three years.

TMWA staff told board members they recommend an across-the-board three percent increase for the next two years and then an assessment of finances after then.

“We’d re-evaluate in the third year to see if we still need increases,” said Michele Sullivan, TMWA chief financial officer.

Several TMWA board members questioned staff on issues they wanted to discuss at next month’s board meeting.

Reno Councilwoman Naomi Duerr suggested higher connection fees and wanted to see what differential rate increases would look like based on tiers of water use.

Vaughn Hartung

Washoe County Commissioner Vaughn Hartung said he wanted more information about how projected growth might affect water rates.

“We’ll have an increased customer base over the next two, three and four years,” Hartung said. “I want to see how rates are structured and how projected growth works back into structured rates.”

Reno Councilwoman Jenny Breckhus asked TMWA staff to research how utilities of similar sizes set tiers, adjust rates, and deal with water rights.

The board expects to hear concerns from the public.

Sparks Councilman Ron Smith said people might be reluctant to conserve water if their rates are increased. Breckhus said some constituents have told her they’re not going to conserve water because they think it’ll go toward development.

Selling water rights wasn’t recommended.

“Selling assets would be temporary and we’d still need ongoing revenue,” said Andy Gebhardt, TMWA customer service supervisor.

The next TMWA board meeting is scheduled at 10 a.m. Dec. 21 at Sparks City Hall, 431 Prater Way.

Open houses on rate adjustments are expected the weeks of Feb. 20 and Feb. 27, followed by hearings in March and April. New rates would take effect in May.

Carla O'Day
Carla O'Day
Carla has an undergraduate degree in journalism and more than 10 years experience as a daily newspaper reporter. She grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., moved to the Reno area in 2002 and wrote for the Reno Gazette-Journal for 8 years, covering a variety of topics. Prior to that, she covered local government in Fort Pierce, Fla.




Drought is over, water restrictions aren’t say TMWA officials

With the record breaking winter northern Nevada just experienced, there is no longer any drought in the area, but does that mean that residents should forget about water conservation?