Due to operating revenue falling short of operating expenses, as well as the increased labor and materials costs for scheduled maintenance projects, the board of directors is considering raising the monthly service fee for 2022. The service fee is currently $8.00 per ¾” equivalent.
From 1996 through 2014, Southwest Metropolitan did not charge customers for reliable delivery of high-quality water obtained from Denver Water and distributed to customers, nor for collection and transportation of all wastewater discharged by District customers to South Platte Renew (the regional wastewater treatment plant). District operations were largely funded from income generated from the investment of reserve funds.
Since then, there has been an extraordinary drop in interest rates, which has led to a decrease in annual interest revenue. This has caused the district to undergo operating deficits of approximately $1M per year. Since the district does not receive any property tax revenue from its customers, the board’s financial policy is to match annual service fee revenue with operating expenses. Although the fee is billed through Denver Water’s monthly water bill, this revenue may also be used for wastewater collection maintenance and repairs.
In the past year, the district has experienced significant increased costs of items used for routine maintenance and repair activities. This includes PVC pipe, fittings, and valves, all which have seen prices increase from 20% to as high as 70%. PVC pipe costs hit an all-time high in 2021 after several chemical plants along the gulf coast were temporarily shut down due to multiple hurricanes and a lightning strike in Louisiana. Also impacting the industry was the fluke cold freeze that took place last February in Texas where several chemical plants were debilitated.
Without additional funding, the increase in construction costs and labor, along with the decrease in investment income, could ultimately result in the district being unable to provide safe, reliable water delivery and wastewater collection services to its residents. To prevent this from happening, the board of directors is considering raising the monthly service fee for 2022. This decision will be made at the December 17th board meeting during the public service fee hearing. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the district office remains closed to the public. Anyone interested in attending the December board meeting may do so through the virtual platform option that can be found in the December meeting agenda once available.