The Gilbert Town Council has approved utility rate changes that will go into effect on November 1, 2018.
After reviewing the fiscal health of the community’s water, wastewater, reclaimed water, and environmental services utilities and determined that rate adjustments are needed to keep the funds balanced with expenses over the next few years. Water and wastewater rates have been unchanged since 2009, and environmental services rates were decreased in 2012.
With the utility rate increases, Gilbert will maintain customer service levels, achieve revenue sufficiency, assign costs of service among customer classes in an equitable manner, promote efficient water use, and operate self-sufficient utilities that are not subsidized or that subsidize other services. View the Rate Study Report.
Learn more about how these changes will impact you by selecting one of the following options:
May 3: Adoption of “Notice of Intent to Raise Rates and Fees” at Council meeting
May 7: A report detailing the proposed changes becomes available on the website
August 7: Customer workshops- Power Ranch Barn, 3685 S. Autumn Dr.
August 20: Customer workshops- Gilbert’s University Building, 92 W. Vaughn Ave.
September 20: Public hearing and Possible Council Adoption: 6:30PM at 50 E. Civic Center Dr.
November 1: New rates become effective
Questions, comments, or concerns? Submit them to Eric.Braun@gilbertaz.gov .
Gilbert provides five utility services
- Reclaimed water
- Environmental services (refuse, bulk trash, recycling)
- Environmental compliance (stormwater and air quality)
As residents and businesses of Gilbert, you may utilize all or only some of these utility services. The use of a specific utility service is reflected on your individual Gilbert utility bill(s). For instance, only large landscapes like HOAs and golf courses use Gilbert reclaimed water. Another example is businesses in Gilbert that have the option to use private trash haulers instead of Gilbert’s commercial refuse services. Live in a County Island? You may not have the sewer fee portion of the bill. However, everyone benefits from activities that improve air quality and prevent stormwater pollution, so that service will be reflected on all Gilbert utility bills.
The new rates adjustments reflect the increased costs of these utility services since 2009, when our last rate increase occurred.
If you receive safe and reliable drinking water at your Gilbert home, business, school, or church, you are a Gilbert water utility customer. Water rates are increasing across the nation. Gilbert has not had a water rate increase in 9 years.
To be able to deliver on-demand potable drinking water for your needs, a tremendous amount of infrastructure must be maintained, including:
- 83,055 water meters
- 37,218 water isolation valves
- 12,578 fire hydrants
- 1,333 miles of underground water lines
- 18 Wells to meet peak demands from water customers
- 2 drinking water treatment plants:
- Pumps and reservoirs throughout Gilbert’s service area to ensure optimal water pressure
Additionally, consider the large amounts of energy it takes to treat surface water (surface water = Colorado, Salt, and Verde River water delivered through canals), pump groundwater, and transport drinking water through the distribution system. Gilbert has a power bill just like any other residence or business, so any increases in our power bills make water treatment more expensive. For the Gilbert water utility, energy costs are 30% higher today than they were in 2009.
On top of all that, the cost of water itself (the commodity) has steadily increased over the last decade. Central Arizona Project (the large canal through which Gilbert receives its share of Colorado River water) wholesale water rates have increased 6.8% annually, for the last 17 years. As the Central Arizona Project canal ages, it too needs to be maintained to ensure continued delivery of water to cities, farmers, and industries. You, as the retail water customer, eventually feel those wholesale price increases through rate changes.
Learn more about the five utilities Gilbert operates below.
After bathing, washing dishes, laundry, and flushing, where does your water go? If you are sending your water down the drain and into the Gilbert sanitary sewer system, then you are a customer of this utility. Live in a county island? You likely don’t see this sewer portion on your bill because many of those residential properties maintain their own septic systems. Transporting and treating business’ and residents’ wastewater is a complex endeavor. Energy and chemical cost increases affect this utility as it takes large amounts of both to transport and treat wastewater to proper standards for health and safety.
In order to safely remove and treat your generated wastewater 24/7, 365 days a year, Gilbert maintains:
- 20,122 sewer manholes to access, inspect, and repair sewer pipelines
- 897 miles of Gilbert-maintained sewer collection system pipelines
- 21 lift stations to pump wastewater
- 2 water reclamation plants where wastewater is treated and purified (Greenfield and Neely Water Reclamation Facilities)
Reclaimed water customers receive A+ quality treated effluent, the highest possible rating from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Effluent, or reclaimed water, is wastewater that has been purified. Reclaimed water is suitable for use on landscapes and in manmade lake features, and decreases the demands on the potable (drinking water) system. Reclaimed water is sold at a lower rate per 1,000 gallons than potable water due to the lower treatment and delivery cost of this water supply. The new rates for reclaimed water better reflect the cost of service of this water supply, as well as the increasing value of this water supply. Reclaimed water that is not purchased by customers is recharged back into the ground by the Town.
Single-family residential houses in Gilbert are all customers of this utility. Residents pay a monthly refuse fee depending on the size of their container in order to have their trash and recycling properly disposed of. As an added bonus, residents enjoy bulk trash pickup once every 5 weeks, with the exception of the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas. As a resident of Gilbert, you can also enjoy the services of the Household Hazardous Waste Facility, where items not meant for the landfill can be properly disposed of.
Businesses and other commercial establishments in Gilbert have a choice on trash hauling services. They can make the best decision for their facility by using Gilbert commercial refuse services or hiring a private company to perform this function. Costs to operate this utility can increase if landfill disposal fees rise, fuel costs fluctuate, or if trucks need replacements or repair. The new rate increases on the commercial hauling services Gilbert provides reflect the cost of service of providing this utility service.
It is important to note that this utility service is not newly created by Gilbert, but has existed for some time in response to State and Federal environmental protection requirements. For stormwater and air quality pollution prevention, there are (unfunded) state and federal mandates Gilbert must comply with. If we are not in compliance, we can be fined at a rate of $70,000 per violation per day. To remain in compliance, we must implement measures such as street sweeping, monitoring stormwater outfalls, enforcing drywell and retention basin operation and maintenance, and monitoring air quality activities of generators and at construction sites to ensure we comply with State and Federal laws and protect our environment.
To fund compliance, a fee of $4.28 is being added. In the past, this program was funded out of the environmental services (refuse and recycling) utility. However, to be transparent about the cost of this service, a separate fee is being incorporated. Many other cities have a similar fee as well, although what programs are funded by the fee differs greatly as does the fee amount. Transparency and properly funding this utility service ensures that the beneficiaries (residents and businesses of Gilbert) pay into the costs to maintain a healthy environment. Creating a separate, more transparent fee also allows the rates to decrease in the residential environmental services fund where compliance services are currently being housed.