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Ask Joe: What's behind big water rate hike in Fernley?

From the Ask Joe file

We're tackling a question about rising water rates.

Shawna Burkhart wrote in asking how and why the city of Fernley was able to double their water rates without allowing residents to vote on it.

Shawna says people in Fernley are outraged over this.

Here's what I found out

Water rates have gone up quite a bit.

I checked with Fernley City Manager Daphne Hooper about this. She says they recently had an independent rate study conducted which showed the city needs more money to maintain and repair its utility system.

In fact that city has had to dip into its reserves to pay for operating expenses of its water plant.

So, the council voted in November to raise rates and that rate hike went into effect on January 1.

Here's how it breaks down

The base rate is now $42.85 a month. That's up from $19.47 a month. So, it's actually an increase of more than 100 percent. That amount will go up to $44.03 in July and $46.80 in July of 2018.

On top of the base rate, there is also a $3 charge per one thousand gallons of water used.

This is something the city identified as a problem. The council asked for that study and then voted on the rate increase. Of course, many residents aren't happy about it but the council decided it could not keep dipping into the city's reserves to pay those operating and maintenance costs.

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