Dickinson reviews contract with Southwest Water Authority

During a working session on Tuesday, November 16 at Town Hall, the Dickinson Town Commission heard from town lawyer Christina Wenko and Director of Public Works Gary Zuroff on the contract for the SWA pipeline project and on how the contract water rate should go from $ 5.60 per 1,000 gallons to $ 5.71 per 1,000 gallons. The change would take effect on January 1, 2022.

According to city documents, “Each year the Southwest Water Authority carefully reviews current and future finances to determine the next year’s budget and any need for rate changes. This is done with the understanding that future rates must reflect the expenses necessary to help ensure continued water quality and reliable flows to all of SWA’s customers. There are many fixed costs, such as electricity costs, telephone services, heating, fuel, electrical service for cathodic protection, salaries, training, insurance, construction expenses, expenses of vehicle, system maintenance and some equipment replacements.

Wenko noted during the meeting that it is important for the city to consider all costs before final approval – a will shared by Zuroff.

“Normally the city just took that 11 cents and passed it on to our utility tariffs,” Zuroff said, adding that if there was other revenue to cover that cost, the city would bear that tariff increase. . “… But normally, whatever Southwest Water rates increase, the city would add it to the utility bill and increase our costs.” (With) our sewage rates, we haven’t increased for several years, mainly because if Southwest Water goes up, it’s hard to increase it any further.

The State Water Commission has until February 15, 2022 to notify SWA of its approval or any issues with the contract.

“It is important to know that SWA does not take rate changes lightly and has recently cut all unnecessary expenses to stay profitable,” the city documents say.

The city has grown in recent years. As Dickinson’s population grows, the town “may wish to provide water service to customers and areas within the service area,” according to a statement from the Southwest Pipeline Project Contract for the transfer. of the service area.

“This is the agreement that was made for a transfer between the water town and a Southwest Water customer. When the city extended its boundaries, there were customers from Southwest Water; so we had to pay Southwest Water to bring them into the town’s systems, ”said Zuroff, adding that the town of Dickinson had to pay the disconnection charge and the return of capital charge – which was $ 4,000 to $ 5. $ 000 per client.

That deal dates back almost 5 years, Zuroff noted, saying it’s something the city wants to revisit.

“… We receive promoters who ask us for city water. They don’t think they can get it from Southwest Water… If we have the capacity to provide a monitor, the city has to pay Southwest Water to provide them with water, although we get water from Southwest Water. He said, explaining that SWA still sells water with this contractual tariff agreement.

Over the next few weeks, officials from the Town of Dickinson will meet with representatives from SWA to review this contract and the transfer of services agreement in detail. Zuroff said he hopes the discussion will also focus on whether the Dickinson City Commission wants to provide water outside of city limits.

“So originally this land transfer agreement was when we annexed and expanded the city limits. There are a lot of developments that don’t really seek to be part of the city, but they are currently just trying to get water somehow, ”he said. “And so, that’s another part of this discussion. Is the city going to need water outside the city limits? What discussion can we have with Southwest Water? My goal is to provide water to people and I think Southwest Water is too. It’s just trying to cut through this bureaucracy.

The city’s sewer services have already grown, said Zuroff.

“We have sewer services to the refinery and we have sewer services to 116 (avenue). So we are already extending our sewers to 2 miles, ”he added.


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