Outlook steady for water rates in Altus

Majority of wastewater customers to see 2% increase

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Water rates will not rise but wastewater/sewage rates will see a slight increase over the next five years, according to a report to the Altus City Council.

A representative of Willldan Financial Services was on hand to help the council with questions. The same company gave a favorable outlook on the city’s power system several months ago.

Overall, the outlook is favorable for Altus.

For one thing, water and sewage costs are on average for similar-sized towns in southwest Oklahoma and lower than the national average.

Having managed to lower electricity rates earlier this year by means of a sales tax, it means the savings earned will also be reflected in the water and sewage rates.

Altus residents and utility customers will continue to save money, despite a forecasted slight increase in wastewater treatment.

The water costs will be steady, but the sewage treatment costs will “trend upward” in the next five years.

Regarding water treatment, the city is expected to spend about $28 million over the coming years to replace major assets and maintain water quality.

The good news is that the figures from the study show that the City will not have to borrow money to replace the assets.

The current water rates will cover the costs of upgrades in the next five years, so no increase is necessary.

It is a good indication of how strong and well-managed the City’s system is, according to the summary.

On the other hand, current rates for the wastewater/sewage are not recovering enough for costs with its revenue.

The study projects that a gradual, phased increase of 2% this coming year will cost wastewater customers an increase of $1 or $2 a month.

Operation costs for the wastewater system is expected to rise slowly for customers everywhere. Altus’ capital outlay will be more in some years between now and 2026.

The council also learned that wastewater/sewage rates in Altus are lower than the rest of the country.

The financial analyst said that altogether, customers’ utility rates from the city will go down: from an average of $209 a month in the first part of 2021, to $202 a month in 2022.

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