How are sewer rates determined?
The Sedona City Council authorized a wastewater rate study in the FY 18-19 budget process to analyze possible rate changes in 2020. This process is underway. Any changes in rates will be widely publicly announced.
What is the long term outlook for rates?
Rate studies are conducted every five to seven years. Future increases are expected to be more modest than the 2018 increase (four percent) as the city moves closer to retiring its wastewater debt in 2027. The goal is to keep rates low while providing an expected level of service.
Why isn’t my bill tied to my water usage?
For residential customers, sewer bills are currently set at a flat rate. Because the city does not purvey water, and the water distribution system is owned and managed by private water companies, the city does not have ready access to your water usage data.
Does the wastewater system generate a profit?
The system is owned by the rate payers and rates are set to cover costs. The system generates no profit and provides no financial support for non-wastewater activities.
Why do rates continue to increase?
Rates increase to cover costs. Sewer rates in Sedona did not increase for almost 14 years, from 1997 and 2010. When formal rate studies were completed in 2010 and 2013, fee increases were adopted to meet the financial obligations to operate, maintain, upgrade and expand the wastewater system.
Another reason is self-sufficiency. The city is moving toward a self-sufficient wastewater system that operates as an enterprise so that users cover all costs through the sewer rates charged. This model is used by most public utilities across the nation and is required by Arizona Revised Statutes. The wastewater system’s dependence on subsidy by city sales tax is being reduced so as sewer rates increase, the city decreases the sales tax subsidy. This enables the city to use sales tax revenues for functions such as road maintenance and repair, and for completing capital projects.
What are current monthly rates?
The last increase of 4% was effective July 1, 2017. The current residential monthly rates are:
Per residential unit (ERU) - $61.11
Low-flow rate - $47.52
Low-income residential rate - $32.17
Are there any programs in place to help residents who can’t afford the monthly fees?
Yes. Qualified low-income residents can receive a nearly 50% percent discount on their wastewater bill. To learn more and find out if you qualify, visit the “Wastewater Utility Billing Services” tab of the “Wastewater Department” page of the City’s website.
Why are my rates different from other communities?
Comparisons of monthly sewer service charges among different communities vary greatly depending on a number of factors including:
Age of wastewater system. The city system was constructed recently and in a relatively short time due to State mandates in the 1980s. Part of the wastewater bill goes to paying the bonds for the initial construction. The bonds will be paid off in 2027.
Geography of the area served. The wastewater collection system contains 17 pump stations due to the hilly terrain. Pump stations are expensive due to costs for power and maintenance.
Size of system. Sedona’s system services a low-density population many miles away from the treatment facility. This means fewer paying customers and higher fixed costs.
Regulatory requirements. The level of treatment required is specified by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. This may differ between communities because of where the water is discharged or how it is used after treatment.
Environmental sustainability. Sedona treats wastewater to an A+ level. Recent improvements also allow the city to inject treated water back to the water table. These activities are critical to ensure adequate water supply in Arizona.
Why do I have to pay a monthly “standby fee” if I am not connected to the sewer system?
The City constructs sewer system facilities capable of handling all current and likely future customers. The standby fee is a charge to those in sewer areas that have not yet connected to the constructed system but can in the future. The fee is for maintenance of that portion of sewer system capacity that was constructed to serve these future connections. Without the standby fee, all customers currently connected would be paying for their own capacity plus the capacity needed for future customers.
What is the low-flow residential rate?
Qualified residents can receive a discount of more than 20% on their bill if they meet the low-flow toilet requirements. All toilets in the residence must be low-flow toilets (not to exceed 1.6 gallons per flush). For more information, visit the “Wastewater Utility Billing Services” tab of the “Wastewater Department” page of the city’s website.
What number can I call if I still have questions about sewer billing?
Monday – Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.