Breckenridge Texan

Breckenridge City Commission to consider water/sewer rates, aquatic center operations at tonight’s meeting

Breckenridge City Commission to consider water/sewer rates, aquatic center operations at tonight’s meeting
May 04
12:34 2021

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

The Breckenridge City Commission will meet this evening, Tuesday, April 4, for their regular May meeting, and the agenda includes two topics that were also discussed at last month’s meeting: the water and sewer rates and the aquatic center operations.

The meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers, 105 N. Rose Ave.

Water and Sewer Rates

At the April 6 meeting, Chris Ekrut with NewGen Strategies and Solutions spoke to the commissioners about the Water and Wastewater Utility Rate Study that the company had been contracted to perform by former interim City Manager Scott Dixon. Ekrut presented a report based on the study, explaining that the water and sewer utility side of the City operations needs to be run like a business and that not only do they need to generate enough money to cover expenses but that there also needs to be enough money to plan for the future.

One of the first things he showed the commissioners was a rate comparison between Breckenridge and other area water departments. “But as you look at this, I want to caution you, this is not an apples to apples comparison,” Ekrut said. “Every community is different. Every community has water sources, they fund their utility differently. They go about conducting their business differently. So you have to do what’s right for your community.”

The chart compares the water and sewer rates, when applicable, for 5,000 gallons of water usage. Of the communities that were compared, Breckenridge fell near the lower end of the comparison, being more expensive than only a few cities. For 5,000 gallons of water, Breckenridge customers are paying $81.50 — $41.50 for the water, $30 for the sewer and a $10 “revenue deficit surcharge.” Ekrut said that he wasn’t sure when the surcharge was put in place but that it was added to “make up and generate some revenue that was needed.”

Comparatively, Stephens County residents who use the Stephens Regional Special Utility District for their rural water service, pay $95.98 for 5,000 gallons. Clyde residents pay $113 per month, and Eastland residents pay $104.32. On the lower end of the spectrum are Graham at $72.54 — $44.54 for water and $28 for sewer; the Graham bill does not include a deficit surcharge. Cisco and Throckmorton residents pay $62.25 and $58.91, respectively.

Then, Ekrut showed the commissioners a chart that illustrated that, at this time, the funds generated by the water bills is slightly more than the city’s expenses.

“So if we look at your business right now, just today, not considering anything in the future, if we weren’t going to fund capital if we weren’t going to fund meter replacement, if we if we weren’t going to do anything we need to do in the future, then I would be here tonight telling you, ‘Your rates are OK, you’re in good shape, everything’s fine,'” he said. “But that’s not the case, because we have a number of issues that need to be addressed.”

Ekrut then turned his comments to Breckenridge’s future and some of the expenses the City can expect to have related to the water department, such as upgrades to the water treatment plant that are required by state law, as well as increasing the salaries of employees to reduce turnover and ensure quality employees.

He offered up five suggested scenarios that would raise water/sewer rates from an annual increase of less than $2 per month over the next four years to one that would raise rates an initial $15.65 per month and then taper off to an annual increase of $2.38 per month by 2025. The lowest rate increase would allow the City enough extra funds to only pay off the debt to make the treatment plant upgrades, while the higher increases would enable the City to accomplish much more, including pay the debt, increase salaries, replace water metes, replace the City’s 25-year-old dump truck and more.

Click here to see a PDF of the presentation Ekrut gave, including the rate comparisons and suggested scenarios.

Tonight’s meeting agenda includes an item to “make a decision on Water and Sewer Rate Study scenario for budget purposes.”

Aquatic Center

At the April meeting, Interim City Manager Heather Robertson-Caraway and Public Services Director Stacy Harrison discussed the Breckenridge Aquatic Center. The City has spent more than $80,000 making repairs to the pool in order to open it this year, after it was closed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic restrictions, Robertson-Caraway said.

She explained that Krista Wilcox and Deedra Boaz are interested in leasing the Aquatic Center and running it for the summer, an arrangement that has been approved by the City Attorney.

Tonight’s meeting agenda includes an item for the commissioners to consider proposed pool operations for 2021.

New Commissioners

Also, on tonight’s agenda: Newly elected City Commissioners Vince Moore and Gary Mercer will be sworn in. Both ran unopposed for the positions currently held by Tom Cyprian and David Wimberley, who chose not to run for re-election.


Cutline, top photo: Commissioners Rob Durham and Tom Cyprian, left, listen as Chris Ekrut with NewGen Strategies and Solutions presents his Water and Wastewater Rates Study at the April 6 Breckenridge City Commission meeting. The commissioners will consider raising water/sewer rates at tonight’s meeting. (Photos by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

Editor’s Note: This article was updated at about 12:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 5, 2021, to clarify the annual increases presented in the five scenarios suggested by NewGen Strategies and Solutions.

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