CARTHAGE — The city of Carthage is working with a consulting firm to study its water and sewer rates.
The move comes ahead of long-term plans to repair or upgrade parts of the city’s water and sewer infrastructure, including water and wastewater treatment plants, in the years to come. to come.
The commissioners at their February 28 meeting agreed to spend $28,500 on the rate study.
The city commission heard from Chris Ekrut of NewGen Strategies and Solutions at its last meeting. The Richardson-based company has worked with several East Texas towns, including Mount Pleasant and Paris.
“I know as a city you’ve talked about it a bit, but what is a rate study? This is a professional study done to look at the adequacy of your water and sewer rates,” Ekrut said. “Some cities choose to do it in-house, many hire outside experts like me to do this type of study, to come and take a look at the data gathered in a five-year plan.”
Ekrut said that, generally speaking, his company sees inflation on items related to water and wastewater services. His company’s goal, when working with cities on a rate study, is to consider these costs and determine how to pay for them and what improvements are needed.
“Specifically…we’re seeing chemical costs increase dramatically,” Ekrut said. “Also investment costs. When we plan for the future, we develop a five-year rate plan, looking at what your plans are for the future and making sure the rates are sufficient to fund those plans in the future. The purpose of a study of this era is to ensure that we are ensuring the adequacy of the public service, the adequacy of the incomes.
For the tariff study, Ekrut said they are looking at revenue requirements as well as the economic development perspective and service contracts. Studies usually last between 60 and 90 days.
“When we look at a rate study, when we look at a rate schedule, it’s not just about the numbers,” Ekrut said. “As I said before, this is a policy document, we need to make sure we are sending the right pricing signals to your customers. And ultimately, we are very proud of how our customers are stayed with us over time.
Mayor Lin Joffrion said the city has historically not factored improvements into its water and sewer rates as it seeks to do now. Before, he said, whenever the city had a major expense, it adjusted rates after the fact.
“Our fear is that we’re missing something on this stage here,” he said.
City Manager Steve Williams agreed, saying he wanted to look at more than incoming revenue and outgoing expenses when determining rates, which NewGen will help the city do. He pointed to Tyson Foods, which is a major user of water in the city, as well as several supply districts the city works with, as things they also need to consider to treat everyone fairly.
“We are about to rehabilitate a sewage treatment plant. As soon as we do that, we will have our water treatment plant and we will have to work on it. So we have things to come,” Williams said.