Rate and Fee Update
A presentation and public hearing about the Water & Wastewater Rate Study and Drainage Utility Fee Study is scheduled for Thursday, December 14, 2023 at 5:30pm.
Both studies are available to review now:
Town Council on Thursday evening discussed two possible scenarios for a proposed water/wastewater rate increase, landing on the more conservation-minded approach, which would require heavy water users to pay higher fees. This scenario sets more stringent rates for higher users and lowers the tier structure for the most common residential meters. Currently, average residential usage in Prescott Valley is 5,000 gallons per month. The conservation scenario would increase water rates for usage above 5,000 gallons and again at above 15,000 gallons.
At the same time, the Council is considering a Stormwater Fee that would help to mitigate flooding in the community, maintain drainage infrastructure and enhance stormwater recharge.
This fee will better enable the Town to maintain the stormwater system, obtain the proper equipment for the maintenance of this system and move forward with stormwater projects that will help to resolve some of the Town’s flooding issues. The fee will also assist in recharge projects to help replenish the Towns’ aquifer based upon a new Master Drainage Plan the Town is conducting, which will benefit all residents.
Town Council on September 28 adopted a “Notice of Intent” to increase rates and hold a public hearing on the proposed increases on December 14. If the Council adopts the rate plan and stormwater fee after the public hearing, it will go into effect 30 days after adoption. No later than 30 days prior to the hearing date, staff will file for public review a "Report of Proposal to Adopt and/or Revise Certain Utility Rates, Fees and Charges” in the Office of the Town Clerk and Town Manager (and on the Town website).
For more information on the proposed rate increase, please visit https://www.prescottvalley-az.gov/1338/Utilities or call the Prescott Valley Utilities Department at 928-759-3070
Willdan and Associates, the firm hired by the Town to prepare suggested rate adjustments, has created two scenarios for the Council to consider. Scenario I proposes percentage increases across the board. Scenario II was modeled to encourage increased conservation by requiring heavy water users to pay higher fees.
Scenario II offers the goal of encouraging more conservation of precious water resources. It sets more stringent rates for higher users and lowers the tier structure for residential 5/8” meters. Currently, average residential usage in Prescott Valley is 5,000 gallons per month. This scenario would increase water rates for usage above 5,000 gallons and again at above 15,000 gallons.
This fee will better enable the Town to maintain the stormwater system, with assigned staff dedicating 100 percent of their time to maintaining roadside ditches, the underground storm system and box culverts. The fee will allow the Town to obtain the proper equipment for the maintenance of this system and move forward with stormwater projects that will help to resolve some of the Town’s flooding issues. The fee will also assist in recharge projects to help replenish the Towns’ aquifer based upon a new Master Drainage Plan the Town is conducting. This new Plan contemplates construction techniques and technology to slow stormwater runoff, so it has time to sink into the aquifer. Historically these services were funded from fees that should pay for other Town services.
Town Council on September 28 will consider adopting a “Notice of Intent” to increase rates and hold a public hearing on the proposed increases no sooner than 60 days later. If the Council adopts the rate plan and stormwater fee after the public hearing, it will go into effect 30 days after adoption. The public hearing is tentatively scheduled for December 14.
If the Council approves Scenario I, the average Prescott Valley residence would see a $2.89 per month increase effective January 2024, for a total increase of $5.89 per month with the Stormwater Fee included. The cost for the average Prescott Valley household using 5,000 gallons would be $58.71 including the Stormwater Fee. The rates would increase incrementally over the next five years.
If the Council approves Scenario II, the conservation model, the average residence would see a total increase of $5.61 per month including the Stormwater Fee, but this scenario sets higher second and third tier usage block rates to encourage water conservation, with incremental increases over the next five years. The cost in Scenario II for the average household using 5,000 gallons would be $58.43 with the Stormwater Fee included but would rise from $88.76 to $104.37 for those using 15,000 gallons, including the Stormwater Fee.
- Why is Prescott Valley raising water rates?
The Town is proposing to increase rates to sufficiently cover costs associated with providing water and wastewater service to our residents. We have not raised rates since 2017, however, the Town’s operations contract has increased by 24% over that time due to increases in electricity, fuel, personnel costs, and inflation. The rates need to be adjusted to sufficiently fund the water/wastewater system.
The Town plans to fund $54 million in improvements in water/wastewater infrastructure over the next five years. This money will pay for well improvements, PFAS mitigation, water storage tanks, improvements at the wastewater treatment plant, and general water and sewer improvements.
- How do Town of Prescott Valley’s rates compare to those of neighboring cities?
Prescott Valley’s current and proposed water rates are significantly lower than neighboring cities and lower than many other Arizona municipalities.
- How much will my water bill increase, and is it a one-time increase? Why is it being spread over years?
This increase is for both water and wastewater and is dependent on how much water a residential household uses, and the increase will be spread across five years.
- Are water rates higher in some parts of the Town than in others?
No. There is no difference in residential or commercial rates based on your location. While the rates are the same bills can differ between customers due to the amount of water used and the size of the water meter.
- I don’t see you reading my meter. How do you know how much water I used?
Prescott Valley operates on a radio read meter system, so you will not see a meter reader. These radio meter systems allow customers to monitor their water use in near-real-time - the Town’s WaterSmart Portal shows hourly water usage up through the previous day, so customers can assess their use on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and can report average per-day use changes over time. These functions can help customers to tailor their water usage to their own specific needs.
The secondary importance of this system is to immediately detect leaks that might increase a resident’s bill and to assure water conservation.
- How much water does the average Prescott Valley residence use?
The average Prescott Valley residential customer uses 5,000 gallons per month.
- I don’t use 5,000 gallons per month. Will I pay less if I use less?
You will only be billed for the gallons of water that you use.
- Where can I find information on conservation to manage my water rates?
Customers are encouraged to look at their bill online via the WaterSmart Portal. The online Portal has a built-in tool that lists conservation actions that customers can look through and decide which are right for their unique situation. These conservation actions are listed in the Take Action tab at the top of the WaterSmart Portal.
Additionally, if you are a residential sewer customer served by the Town of Prescott Valley, here is some information that could help you reduce the cost of your monthly water/sewer bill.
Each April, the Town of Prescott Valley calculates a new Winter Quarter Average (WQA) which determines your monthly sewer charge for the following year. The WQA is 90% of your November to March average water usage. For example, if your five month’s total water usage (Nov-March) is 25,000 gallons, the average water usage for this five-month period is 5,000 gallons a month; 90 percent of that 5,000-gallon average equals 4,500 gallons. Therefore, 4,500 gallons of sewer usage is the highest sewer volume amount for which you would be charged per month from April until to the new winter quarter calculation is figured for the following year. This calculation acts as a cap for how much you can be billed in regard to sewer. For example, if you used 8,000 gallons of water, you would be billed only for 4,500 gallons of sewer usage, since that is your established WQA.
But, if you used less than 4,500 gallons of water in a month, you would be billed the corresponding volume amount for your sewer usage equal to the water usage. For example, if your water usage for a given month during the year is 3,000 gallons, the sewer charge would be prorated to 3,000, not the 4,500 gallons calculated on your Winter Quarter Average. Your WQA works in your favor to provide you with the lowest possible sewer charge each month.
Since the WQA is based on water usage between November and March, any reduction in water usage during this time frame will also help reduce your overall water and sewer charges.
Other sources of information include the Town of Prescott Valley website at www.prescottvalley-az.gov/243/Water-Conservation, the Arizona Department of Water Resources webpage at www.azwater.gov/ , and the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension website at https://extension.arizona.edu/
- Does Prescott Valley have any incentives for installing water-efficient appliances, voluntarily reducing water usage, etc?
Prescott Valley is currently developing a new Conservation Plan which will be rolled out in the next few months. Options being considered include rebate programs for hot water circulation pumps and water efficient appliances, prohibition of ornamental turf, requirements for drought tolerant landscaping, and other conservation measures.
- What is the Stormwater Utility Fee on my bill and what will it be used for?
This fee will better enable the Town to maintain the stormwater system, with assigned staff dedicating 100 percent of their time to maintaining roadside ditches, the underground storm system and box culverts. The fee will allow the Town to obtain the proper equipment for the maintenance of this system and move forward with stormwater projects that will help to resolve some of the Town’s flooding issues. In addition, the fee will assist in designing and building recharge projects to help replenish the Town’s aquifer by slowing stormwater and allowing it to absorb into the aquifer, benefitting every resident of Prescott Valley. Historically these services were funded from fees that should pay for other Town services.
- What is the amount of the new stormwater utility fee?
If approved by council, the initial fee will be $3 per month and will gradually increase over the next five years to $5 per month.
- I already pay taxes why do I need to pay another fee?
The Town of Prescott Valley does not collect any primary property taxes and is primarily funded by sales tax and state shared revenues. This does not generate enough funding to create a dedicated stormwater program.
- When will this fee go into effect?
If Council approves this fee, the first time you will see it on your utility bill will be in February 2024.
- How can Town of Prescott Valley residents submit comments and concerns regarding the rate increase?
Residents may submit questions or comments online at email@example.com.
- Does the Town assess fees toward new residential homes and businesses to cover their costs?
Yes, the Town assesses Water and Wastewater Capacity Fees to new homes and businesses that cover the cost of capital improvements needed to service their demand.
- What is an “Enterprise Fund”?
Both the Water Fund and Wastewater Fund are considered “Enterprise Funds” and are accounted for separately in the Town Budget. These Funds are self-sufficient, meaning revenues must meet expenditures, similar to a business. Funds are budgeted, expended, and audited annually to ensure the systems are maintained appropriately to provide clean drinking water and treat wastewater.