Aztec utility bills will increase this year
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Most electric rates will decrease, but water, trash and sewer rates will increase
AZTEC — Utility bills in Aztec will be going up this year.
The City Commission unanimously approved its intent to adopt new utility rates Tuesday night.
Utility bills for customers include trash, electric, water and sewer service. While electric rates will decrease for most customers, the other three rates will increase. The new water, electric and sewer rates likely will go into effect in October.
Water rates will increase by $5.65 a month for customers living within the city limits while wastewater rates will increase by $11.45 monthly. Trash rates will increase by $2 starting in January. Another 45 cent trash increase likely will come next year.
Mayor Sally Burbridge said the electric utility adjustments are not a flat-rate adjustment across all users.
Each customer will pay a $12.25 usage charge for the first 100 kilowatt hours he or she uses. After 100 kilowatt hours, there will be a 65 cent charge up to 500 kilowatt hours. After 500 kilowatt hours, that will decrease to 55 cents. On top of that, most customers will pay 11 cents per kilowatt hour.
Aztec electric utility customers also will see yearly increases over the next five years, but the average customer will still pay less in 2022 than her or she currently pays.
"Someone like me, it would go up because I don't use a lot, but a lot of people it would go down," Commissioner Katee McClure said.
The commission also debated not lowering the electric rates and using the electric utility to subsidize the water and wastewater utilities. But Burbridge, whose residence is not connected to the city's sewer, said that would not be fair for the 200 to 250 people in Aztec without sewer connections.
McClure asked if Burbridge thinks the sewer and water systems can ever stand on their own without financial help from the electric utility. Burbridge acknowledged that may not be possible, but she said she thought it is a goal worth moving toward.
While the rates will increase for sewer and water service this year, more increases will be needed in the future.
"It's my opinion that we're going to have to do probably a little more than we want to on wastewater and water because I think if we don't make that move now to help them be standalone utilities, all we're doing is passing it on to someone else who's going to have to deal with it," Commissioner Sherri Sipe said.
City finance officer Kathy Lamb said the city will have to decide by May next year what type of increases it will pursue, and those increases will need to be implemented in July.
Hannah Grover covers government for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652.