WATCH: Mark Cotter talks about plans for a utility rate hike in Sioux Falls
Water and sewer rates for residents would go up more than 20% over four years under the plan presented to the city council.
Click below to watch Sioux Falls Live Editor Patrick Lalley interview Mark Cotter, public works director for the city of Sioux Falls, about plans for a utility rate hike.
For more details on the proposal, scroll down to the story below the video player.
SIOUX FALLS — The cost of water coming in and going out for Sioux Falls residents would increase about 22% over the next four years under a plan presented to the city council this week.
The average customer of city utilities currently pays about $67 per month for water and sewer. Under the plan that will get a first reading on June 6, that amount will increase in phases to about $82 in 2027.
Overall inflation and continued growth of the city are driving the bump in fees, Mark Cotter, public works director, told the council on Tuesday, May 23.
"Just like everyone else, inflation has had a significant impact on water purification's bottom line," Cotter said.
The chemicals used for water purification and reclamation have increased significantly, some up to 60% last year, he said. The cost to do improvements, such as a third connection to the Lewis & Clark Regional Water System and replacing major water mains, have also increased.
The city currently bills more than 60,000 accounts each month with between 900 and 1,200 new customers added every year, he said.
If approved, the fee increases will break down like this:
The average household in Sioux Falls uses about 5,200 gallons of clean water each month.
At the current rate, the bill for that water is $29.54 per month.
The public works department is proposing an increase of 6% effective Jan. 1, 2024. That would be followed by annual raises of 5%, 4% and 4%.
That would make the 2027 monthly bill $35.53.
Less water goes down the drain that what comes in to a household. The average is 4,600 gallons a month.
The currently monthly bill is $37.89.
That would go up by 6% the next two years and then 5% in the two years after that.
In 2027, the monthly average bill would be $46.92.
Cotter said that Sioux Falls has relatively low rates when compared to other communities in the region and across the Upper Midwest.
There were no increases in water rates in six of the past 10 years. The fees are reviewed every four years and haven't gone up since 2020.
The basic fixed charge, before the amount of water used is calculated, is among the lowest in the region, he said.
This system of a low base charge and then a tiered fee system based on use, encourages overall conservation of water, Cotter said.
"Customers pay based on the volume they use. So the more they conserve, the more they save. The more they save on their water bill, the more they also save on their wastewater bill," he said.
The proposal also includes increases for the Sioux Falls Regional Landfill and storm drainage assessments for landowners.
City councilors had little input on the proposal during Tuesday's informational meeting but suggested there would be deeper discussion and questioning at the first reading on June 6.
More details on the proposals are posted on the city's website here.
Here are the year-by-year breakdowns for each of the four areas under consideration.