City Council to vote on rate cut for sewer customers

Las Vegas residents could get a 9 percent discount on their sewer bills in the upcoming year thanks to a decision from the Nevada Supreme Court.

On Wednesday the Las Vegas City Council will consider a proposal to implement the rate cut using $7.25 million from a $16.1 million refund from the defunct Clean Water Coalition.

The savings would be about $20 a year for the average home in the city and more than $70,000 for the largest commercial account.

The refund is the result of a May 26 court decision that ruled a 2010 raid by the state of $62 million the regional coalition had collected to fund a wastewater pipeline into Lake Mead violated the state constitution.

The ruling meant the state had to give the money back to the coalition, which, after the pipeline plan was scrapped, voted Sept. 8 to return the money to local governments that paid into the fund.

In Las Vegas that means sewer customers on average would see a rate cut of about 9 percent in the upcoming year. The other $8.85 million will go to the city’s Sanitary Enterprise Fund, which is used to operate the city’s sewer collection system and three wastewater treatment facilities. The enterprise fund collects about $80 million annually.

The refund distribution reflects the breakdown of the money paid to the coalition directly from the Sanitary Enterprise Fund and a charge to ratepayers.

It would be an across-the-board
9 percent break to the city’s 179,014 residential and 14,040 commercial accounts. On a typical household bill of $229 annually it amounts to a one-time decrease of $20.61. For the city’s largest account, Mission of Nevada Inc., which pays about $800,000 annually, it would be a $72,000 decrease.

The City Council is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the proposal. The staff report recommends approval.

Other local governments have followed a similar tack with refunded money. Clark County commissioners, acting in their duties as the Clark County Water Reclamation Board, voted Sept. 6 to send nearly 63 percent of the county’s $31.8 million refund, about $19.9 million, to ratepayers in the form of credits. The remainder was sent to the district’s capital fund.

The city of Henderson split its nearly $8.1 million refund among customer credits, property owners and a utility capital fund.

A representative for North Las Vegas did not return a call seeking information on what that city plans to do with any refunded money.

Contact reporter Benjamin Spillman at bspillman@reviewjournal.com or 702-229-6435.

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