Yes. The Town evaluated rates for water and wastewater fees and charges (water tap and sewer tap) ultimately resulting in an increase.
- The Town commissioned a water utility rate study that was completed and presented in 2020. The water rate study revealed that user utility base rates needed to increase to cover normal operating costs, chemical and treatment costs, and improvements to aging and outdated equipment. User fees have been increased to account for these shortfalls.
- The new water treatment plant expansion project that will allow for additional treatment capacity to accommodate current and future growth results in costs that are recovered through the collection of impact fees paid by new development. The Board of Trustees approved an increase of the water tap fee from $5,500 to $7,500 and then to the current rate $7,750 for a typical 3/4-inch water tap (3/4-inch tap serves most residential homes and many small businesses). Larger tap sizes are also increase proportionately.
- The wastewater treatment plant is also currently under design for an upgrade to existing process equipment and expansion to accommodate current and future growth. The costs of the upgrade and expansion have been evaluated to proposed various funding scenarios that balance the costs paid by existing users through user rates and the impact fees paid at the time of building permit for new development. Impact fees for a typical 4-inch sewer tap (serves most residential uses and many small business uses) is increased from $7,500 to $9,700. Larger sewer tap sizes increased proportionately based on specific uses.
Residential water and sewer taps currently make up the largest portion of new development impact fees, along with a modest number of new business impact fees. Although impact fees are collected just one time at the time a building permit is issued, the fees are typically passed on to the homebuyer or business and often rolled into the home mortgage or business loan. Homeowners and businesses continue to pay for the one-time cost in their monthly mortgage or loan payments. The homeowner/business also begins paying monthly usage rates beginning at the time construction is complete. Balancing the one-time impact fee costs is important to ensure the cost burden to homebuyers and small businesses continues to be manageable.
- New development projects have significant costs to provide the public infrastructure that serves the development. The developer pays for the installation of water lines, sewer lines, streets, parks and other improvements at the time of construction. The developer/builder then also pays the costs of the impact fees at the time a permit is issued. Continuing to increase impact fees while at the same time the Town is limiting the number of residential permits to stay within treatment capacities could reach a point where developers/builders are unwilling to continue to build in Wellington. If this cost point is reached that new development is no longer willing to pay the fees, the result could be a slowdown or a stop to new development, shifting the cost of paying for improvements onto existing residents.