By Mark Barnes
City residents who have seen a discount on their city water bill during irrigation season will be paying full rate by 2019 after Kuna City Council approved a resolution in a three-to-one vote changing the water system fees and policies at their last meeting on July 16, 2013. Some Kuna city water customers might even be paying the full rate sooner.
All city residents pay a flat fee of $18.90 for water for use up to 10,000 gallons per month. (Senior citizens pay a reduced flat rate of $14.70 per month.) All Kuna residents then pay a standard rate of $1.57 for every 1,000 gallons of use above 10,000 gallons, except during irrigation season when some residents receive a discount of 79 percent on their excess water usage.
Members of city council had concerns about those residents receiving the discount who were being subsidized by those paying full rate. It has been a topic of council meetings for months but the details have all been worked out and a final resolution has been passed. Also part of the debate in changing the rates was that a one-year increase from the subsidized rate to the full rate would impact resident’s finances too much, so a tiered program was developed that increases rates over several years.
In the past, city residents who have a water right and have been a paying member of the Kuna Municipal Water District but who have, for whatever reason, not been able to access either pressurized or gravity fed irrigation water have received a discount during the irrigation season on city water to compensate. During irrigation season those residents only paid 33¢ per 1,000 gallons over the 10,000 gallon flat-rate base. Their water rates will increase for the 2014, 2015 and 2016 irrigation seasons to 75¢ per 1,000 gallons over 10,000. For the 2017 and 2018 the rate will increase to $1 per 1,000 gallons and for the 2019 the rate will be the city standard rate at $1.57 per 1,000 gallons. By 2019, a resident using 15,000 gallons in a month could see their monthly bill increase by $6.20 during the irrigation season.
Rates will increase much faster for commercial properties, residents who have access to irrigation but have elected not to connect and are receiving the discount, and for any properties outside of city limits that have been receiving a discounted water rate. For those the rate will increase to $1 per 1,000 gallons over 10,000 gallons monthly for the 2014 and 2015 irrigation seasons. Then, by 2016 their rate will be the city standard rate of $1.57 per 1,000 gallons.
For billing purposes, the official irrigation season dates have been changed from April 15 through October 15 to May 1 through October 31.