The City of Meridian continues to have some of the lowest water and sewer utility rates in the Treasure Valley. A major element that goes into keeping the water and sewer rates as low as possible is Meridian’s save before you spend philosophy. Because the City of Meridian carries no debt, we are able to keep our rates lower as we are not paying off interest, bonds, or loans. However, this method of financing requires extensive planning by both the Meridian Public Works and Finance Departments through the process of planning and budgeting for the City’s operational, capital, and personnel needs.
The Public Works Department is run as its own “business” compared to the other City services. It is not funded by property tax, but rather in the monthly fee we all pay for our usage and fees from development. This makes it unique and we are consistently working to ensure residents pay their share and development pays its share. Additionally, we are in the process of completing our first cost of service study this fall which helps allocate all of the costs of running the water and sewer utilities into the right types of charges for operating each system separate of one another. Growth and development must pay a proportional share of system costs and this helps us ensure that our utility rates can sustain our operational needs without incurring debt.
Earlier in the summer, due to rising costs of both operational and large capital infrastructure projects like water treatment facilities and regulatorily required upgrades at the wastewater treatment plant, the Public Works Department increased utility rates by 2%, the first increase since 2014 which went into effect June 15, 2022. This fall, the Public Works Department also raised the assessment or hook up fee for new development to connect to the City’s water and sewer systems. These two increases will help fund the increasing costs for operational, capital, and regulatory needs while ensuring the City continues to remain debt free. As our economy is experiencing inflation in nearly every sector, we will continue to evaluate our utility rates and assessment fees in order to meet the needs of delivering our premier water and sewer services in a measured and conservative approach.
If you are interested in learning more about how the Public Works Department plans for and provides 24/7 water and sewer services to the City of Meridian, please tune in to this week’s #myMERIDIAN Podcast, www.meridiancity.org/mymeridian, where Public Works Director Laurelei McVey shares the ins and outs of what it takes to plan and provide an essential, critical public service that every citizen in Meridian uses every day.