OWASA Board Sets Public Hearings for FY22 Budget and Rates

OWASA’s Board of Directors will hold public hearings on the proposed budget and rate adjustment for Fiscal Year 2022 at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 27, 2021.

The Board is considering a 5% rate increase for water and sewer services. Next year’s budget will pay for investments necessary to provide water and sewer service and protect the environment and public health, including the retention of a highly skilled and dedicated workforce. Details on rate adjustments proposed.

A 5% increase in rates, if approved, will raise the average residential bill for OWASA customers by $3.79 to $79.46. Any adjusted rates would go into effect in October 2021.

Roughly half of every dollar OWASA receives through rates and fees is put back into the community’s water and sewer infrastructure. The other half of every dollar goes toward supporting the operation of the community’s water and sewer system 24/7, 365 days a year.

Last year, in the early months of responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, OWASA adopted a budget for the 2021 Fiscal Year with no rate increase, despite the need for 5% rate increase. In order to meet the goal of a budget that did not include a rate increase for FY21, critical capital projects were delayed and staff received no pay increase. It is not a sustainable practice to continue delaying these investments critical to providing reliable service for customers.

Another financial challenge presented by the pandemic was a 12% decrease in water demands due to closures across the community. OWASA is projecting that water usage will return to normal as more activities return to pre-pandemic standards throughout the fall.

OWASA implemented a moratorium on service disconnections for non-payment in March 2020 to ensure that all customers had access to safe water throughout the pandemic. That moratorium will remain in place through at least August 1, 2021. If you are able, please consider donating to OWASA’s Care to Share bill-assistance program to help our neighbors who might be in need when OWASA resumes standard collection practices, including service disconnections. You can donate on your monthly OWASA bill or directly to OWASA’s partner agency, the Inter-Faith Council for Social Service.

The public hearings on OWASA’s proposed budget and rate adjustment is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, May 27, 2021. You can register to speak at the meeting by emailing Clerk to the Board Andrea Orbich by 3 p.m. the day of the meeting.