After years of installing water meters and months of providing potential water-use rates for residents, the Ammon City Council voted Thursday to publish its finalized rates and approved installation plans for the meters.
Under the new metered system, residents will be charged a $30 base rate plus one dollar for every 1,000 gallons of water they use. Unmetered lots will be charged either $50 or $70 a month for water, depending on their size. The new water rates would generate $3.3 million for Ammon, which city administrator Micah Austin said was necessary to maintain and expand the utility’s infrastructure.
“The current rates are unsustainable. And if they are kept in place it would put the water system at risk,” Austin said.
New customers can opt into a yearlong test period during the installation process to adapt to the new billing system and potentially reduce their usage. City officials expect that billing residents for every gallon they use will bring more money in and encourage residents to conserve water. Ammon provided estimated bills to residents for six months earlier this year to prepare them for the metered billing system, although those estimates used a different formula than the finalized rate passed Thursday.
The city also approved a two-phase plan to install water meters at every residence and business within the city. More than 900 more locations in the city will have meters installed between March and October 2020, and the second phase will finish the installation at the remaining lots by October 2024. The new water meter rates and the installation plan were approved 4-1 by the Council, with Councilman Byron Wiscombe opposing both because another increase in water costs is planned for next year.
“I’m in favor of the general idea of metering, but not comfortable with the current set of variables,” Wiscombe said.
While the newly published rates are likely to be approved, the city council will hold a public hearing before the costs are made official.
In other business, the council also approved the preliminary plat for a new business office called Eagle Park. Located north of the Modern Home Furniture Store on Eagle Drive, the 9.6-acre lot would provide room for eight medical offices or small retail stores. The council passed the preliminary plan unanimously and will revisit the proposal next year to formally approve the plan.
One unique detail about the proposal was that the businesses on the west side of the lot could serve liquor. Idaho statutes prevent liquor from being sold within 300 feet of a church or school, and Hillcrest High School is located so close to the eastern side of the proposed Eagle Park that only the far western end of the property fell outside that bubble.
Hillcrest High School will host the council’s work session at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 10, where Mayor Sean Coletti plans to make an announcement regarding the school.