Public hearing

Ammon residents attended a city council meeting in January to discuss the proposed new water rates at a public hearing.

Starting next month, all Ammon residents will begin seeing major changes in their water bills.

The Ammon City Council voted Thursday night to adopt a new system for billing metered and unmetered residents and to implement that change beginning April 1. The change comes after months of debate among the council about the specifics of the new rate structure and follows more than a year of rollout for the water meters.

Under the new system, metered homes will pay a $30 base rate and a dollar for every thousand gallons they use. Unmetered homes will pay either $50 or $70, depending on the size of their lot.

There was disagreement among the council and the residents who attended the meeting over when to begin the new billing system. Several people pushed to hold off on the changes until July or August, giving residents more time to see the estimated cost on their bills during the summer.

The majority in the room were skeptical that most people would move to conserve water until they had begun paying the new rate. City officials pointed to the nearly $250,000 that water engineers estimated would be lost by delaying the installation for another four months.

“We had community meetings for a year and a half. We sent out mailings and estimated bills. There’s not much else we could do to let people know,” councilman Russell Slack said.

The council ended up voting 4-1 to approve the new rates and 3-2 to implement the change on April 1. Councilman Byron Wiscombe voted against both motions, saying he was still not convinced that water meters were the city’s best option to afford the maintenance and expansion of its water system.

The city council also approved a modification to the water meter installation plan it had originally passed in December. Ammon residents who want to get a water meter but aren’t scheduled to have one installed soon will no longer have to pay for the installation of the meter if they request to have one installed.

“One item of public feedback we received is that they want all customers on meters as quickly as possible,” City Administrator Micah Austin said.

Residents who want a meter installed early will pay around $400 for the meter and cover any line improvements, while the city will pay for the installation and vault. Ammon will cover the full cost of the water meters for homes that are scheduled under the current six-year installation plan, which includes 916 homes over the next 18 months.

Contact Brennen with news tips at 208-542-6711.

Kauffman reports on health care and city events for the Post Register.

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