Residential and commercial areas that need new or renewal connections to the city’s water mains will see a price increase starting July 1.
During its regular meeting Wednesday the Board of Public Works approved a $100 increase in the work to help pay for increased material and labor costs. For a three-quarter inch pipe the new price will be $650, a one-inch pipe will cost $725.
“We try to always keep costs down, but materials are going up, wages are going up and we haven’t raised the rates in a few years,” said Water Department General Manager Charlie Brosch. “We’re not trying to make money on these fixes, we’re just trying to break even.”
According to reports, the Water Department lost approximately $8,400 last year repairing 129 services. While new construction is a factor for some new mains, department employees are more often called for what are classified as renewal services. In the older areas of town, particularly downtown and along Broadway Boulevard, the water mains used were built at the turn of the century, Brosch said.
“Those mains were the property owner’s responsibility and unless there was a crack or leak, we couldn’t touch them,” he said. “Since the city brought the Water Department under its control in the late 1950s, we’ve been going in and resetting those mains when needed. If there’s a leak, our guys will go in, fix the problem and sometimes move the entire main to where it needs to be. It’s an expensive process.”
Once the mains are reconnected they’re city property and will be maintained by the Water Department, Brosch added. In additional to labor and maintenance costs, the city recently started charging the Water Department every time employees had to cut into the street. The department will now pass that expense, $275, onto the property owner.
“So if we have to do a renewal or new service, the owner is looking at between $925 and $1,000 for a fix,” Brosch told the board. “It’s expensive and I wish there was a way around it, but this is really the only way we can do it.”
The board approved the idea but wanted to make sure customers received an itemized bill, showing exactly what the costs were and why bills may vary customer to customer, depending on if street work was needed. It was also decided customers could pay the bill in installments if needed.