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Ask Joe: Why are Fernley water rates so high?

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One of our viewers wrote in with a question about water rates and why they're on the rise in one part of our viewing area.

Anna Shunney wrote in asking who made the decision to charge Fernley residents $100 a month for water?

She doesn't think it's fair, but she's not sure what recourse she has at this point, so she turned to us.

Here's what I found out:

I checked with Fernley City Manager Daphne Hooper about this. She says the city sent out a letter at the end of last year advising residents about the new water rate structure that went into effect January 1.

What happened was Fernley's water and sewer funds were losing $1 million a year because it had been about five or six years since the city had increased its rates.

So the city commissioned a study and then launched a new rate structure, which went into effect January 1 of this year.

Under the new system, rates went from $18 a month to $42 a month as of January 1, plus $3.10 for every thousand gallons of water used.

That's in addition to $34 a month for sewer use. So when you combine those numbers you could be looking at $100 a month total. And those bills are sent out together, by the way.

Again, the Fernley city manager says they had to raise rates to make up for several years that went by without any rate hikes.

There are other costs when it comes to water. Fernley residents pay $41 a month as part of their property taxes to help pay off the water treatment plant that was built in 2008 at a cost of $80 million. That's to pay off the bond.

The regular maintenance of that treatment plant is included as part of the new water rates.

That's how the numbers break down. I hope that provides some clarity on the issue. Thanks to our viewer Anna for sending in that question!

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