Shouldn’t Multifamily use the same kind of consumption based system as the Non-residential class?

Multifamily (residential) sewer charges are a set monthly fee that is the same for different buildings/unit size, whether it is for one bedroom or four bedrooms. Over time the fixed rate structure is adversely affecting the affordability of lower occupancy units (studio and one bedroom units) impacting a population that is in many cases on a restricted budget. The proposed changes to the Non-residential classes (moving towards more weight on consumption-based charges) are intended to increase equity among customers so that those who contribute more to the system pay more for the services provided. Shouldn’t Multifamily use the same kind of system? Shouldn’t Multifamily use the same kind of consumption based system as the Non-residential class?

  1. Equity is definitely increased with consumption-based billing. All residential accounts (Single family and Multi-family) are currently charged a fixed monthly sewer bill. That amount is determined by computing the total flow and associated strength of sewer contributions for the category and the cost to convey and treat it is then spread throughout the number of units. With all of the changes we have made to the commercial sewer rates it would be quite difficult to make this happen in this cycle. The amount of time required to model these changes is significant, and may take more time and resources than we have before we must move forward with the municipal budget process. Additionally, there are several administrative changes that must be considered (e.g. software capabilities, that are different from the Non-residential classes). But it is definitely worth considering. You have highlighted an area of disparity that we were not aware of, and we now have the ability to apply that information. The same type of comment in 2017 started the process that lead us to where we are now with reorganizing the Non-residential classes. These incremental changes can add up to achieving our goals of equity and fairness in the long run, and although it means a slower process overall, it does provide some benefits. Making a few changes at a time allows the City to more easily evaluate the narrow changes that have been made, and the effects it has on our customers, their consumption habits, and how the utility must respond. If the changes are successful, then it becomes easy to take another step in that direction and evaluate again. The City’s current rate is a commonly-used fixed structure for residential sewer bills. Many jurisdictions use this rate structure to improve revenue stability. A movement away from this fixed rate structure would inject uncertainty into the revenue stream and should be made thoughtfully. Additional analysis and evaluation would be required to understand the associated revenue risk.

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1. How will these changes affect my residential water and sewer bills?
2. What is the estimated/possible impact for a specific customer?
3. Is the Phase 5 for the Water Reuse & Reclamation Facility (WRRF) the phase that deals with effluent temperature reduction?
4. How do car washes fit into the scheme?
5. Should there be some consideration of the more commercial aspects of “churches” that extend beyond their primary use?
6. Do the water rate computations include the capital costs of maintenance and/or replacement of the reservoirs/water towers?
7. Some explanation of how water use and sewer use are going up 0.85 and 0.75% per year when the population growth is a pretty steady 1.0 - 1.2% per year. This does not, on the surface, make sense.
8. Has/is the U of I been part of this process? It seems they will be impacted by the sewer rates and assuring they know what’s being contemplated is necessary.
9. On slide 19 of the presentation, “multi-family” Is listed as a “non-residential” use. But on slide 24, it seems to reappear as a residential use. I was a bit confused on that - clarification please?
10. Are the rates based on actual cost of service to deal with the biosolids/FOG produced? How did we parse-out those rates?
11. Does the study include enough “buffer” to allow for sufficient funds to be generated if users decrease their consumption/output dramatically in order to reduce their costs?
12. What if many of the commercial clients ask for, and are granted a reduction in their classification? Has the impact of that on the revenue stream been contemplated?
13. The two reserves cited here are ‘one time’ pools of funds, there is not a need to newly replace the reserve in each successive year. Is that right?
14. Slide 24*: Where does the data for flow/BOD/TSS for the various accounts come from? Why are BOD and TSS always the same figure, for a given customer?
15. Two Classes jump +/- 5% COSA. Does that mean we won’t uniformly apply the 2.25% annual increase to sewage costs to all customers in this rate cycle?
16. What is the total cost UI should expect to pay in the coming years for sewage? With declining enrollment, should volumes be reevaluated?
17. Non-Residential - Low, - Medium, - High. Almost identical # of customers, but higher ccf for medium. Confused by difference between flows and % fund allocation for high and medium.
18. What have other communities done in response to virus, delay for a year?
19. Adversely affected customers, will the City be conducting outreach?
20. How does the General Facilities Charge (GFC) apply to existing buildings that are being split?
21. Shouldn’t Multifamily use the same kind of consumption based system as the Non-residential class?