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(Stillwater, OK) – Stillwater City Council approved new, aligned rate structures to meet the cost of service and infrastructure projects after several months of rate studies, consultations with experts who specialize in utility rate structures, community meetings, and staff recommendations.
Councilor Christie Hawkins explained that the rate studies have been vetted by consultants and staff with no one taking the rate increases lightly.
“I think it’s also worth noting that through the years and especially during the pandemic that we put a lot of those increases and studies on hold and even the inflationary increases on hold because of the economic impact that the pandemic had on our community,” included Councilor Hawkins. “We now find ourselves in a position where we really do need these rate increases to be able to maintain services and maintain our infrastructure.”
Vice Mayor Dzialowski requested staff dive deeper into conservation options and initiatives for customers to participate in that may help them in the long run. She also requested additional programs to help those who may experience a financial hardship. Loren Smith, Electric Utility Director, explained there will be additional opportunities available once installation of the new electric meters is complete. The AMI system is automated and allows for real-time collection of utility usage.
Currently, the City offers a program for customers to donate funds to help other customers who experience a financial hardship. Dana Mattox, Utility and Billing Services Director, explained customers can check a box on the bill stub when paying their bill and set the donation amount. She said the City partners with Community Action to determine eligibility of those who receive the donated funds, and included other partnerships the City has with community groups to help customers during hardships.
Funds collected from the rate increase will pay for cost of service and address vital infrastructure concerns with the regional water projects.
“Water is probably the one I heard the most about. I think everyone who contacted me about water said we need to make sure we are keeping the water system up and running and appreciate the fact that we’re doing that through these rates,” shared Mayor Will Joyce. “…Water rates especially will be something that we’re all going to see on our bill going up, but the system that provides clean water to the City has got to be maintained. I think folks in the community recognize that and recognize the true investments and impact these rates will make in that system.”
The City is also looking into grants to address regional water projects. Receipt of grants could lower utility rates in the future.
The resolutions were adopted unanimously and the new rates will be phased in beginning January 2024.
For more information about the water, wastewater, stormwater, and electric rate studies and information, go to: stillwaterok.gov/ratestudy.