Water hookup fees may soar | SierraSun.com

Water hookup fees may soar

Truckee’s boom and predicted future growth has made an increase in fees that are charged to new developments to pay for new water systems an unavoidable reality.

With a proposed increase of more than four times the current fee schedule, many developers are holding their breaths for what the new rate could mean not only for themselves, but for average consumers.

The Truckee-Donner Public Utility District is upgrading its water master plan to ensure adequate facilities are in place for new growth and that new construction pays for the facilities needed.

That plan includes a considerable increase in the facility fee schedule, and members of the Contractor’s Association of Tahoe-Truckee (CATT) encouraged the district to create formulas for a more fair and equitable fee distribution plan in a meeting with district staff last week.

“There are some hard realities when you’re dealing with utilities,” said Ted Owens, chairman of the CATT board of directors. “We recognize the PUD has to raise their fees, but we’re hoping they can create more equitable distribution of those fees … We’re looking after our members as well as the people buying entry level houses.”

Under the current fee schedule, the facility fee for a 5/8- by 3/4-inch service line for a single family dwelling unit costs $707. Under the proposed fee schedule, the cost for a single family dwelling unit facility hook-up would be $3,086.

The same fee applies to all types of residences, from very modest to expensive detailed homes. CATT members would like to see the fee more evenly distributed so people buying first-time homes aren’t hit with the same fee increase.

“It’s not really the contractors who pay for it, in the end it’s the property owners,” CATT President Mitch Clarin said.

TDPUD General Manager Peter Holzmeister said the district is considering different options for how the fee is implemented.

“We’re evaluating a different way of applying the facility fee,” Holzmeister said. “We’re optimistic we will have something that will work.”

Owens and Holzmeister said they were pleased with how the meeting went and the positive way in which the issues were discussed.

Holzmeister said they will most likely present an updated fee plan at the PUD’s next board meeting.

The existing master plan for the PUD’s water system is five years old, and since 1995, significant new development has occurred. District staff looked at current commercial and residential water demand, and what the demand would be with complete build-out in Truckee. PUD water projects that need upgrades, improvements or replacements were discussed in the proposed master plan update, as were costs and phasing.

Costs of some improvements will be incurred by the district, others by developers and some pipeline projects will be incurred jointly between the district and the developer.

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