The City of Willcox is considering increasing water and wastewater rates for its residents.

Caleb Blaschke, Willcox city manger, said the rate increases would be used to pay for the operations of the wastewater treatment plant and collection system. After the rate increase each city resident would pay a 67 cent increase per 1,000 gallons of wastewater.

“The average water utility customer will see an increase of $2.05 from $21.21 to $23.26 for monthly usage,” Blaschke said.

The charge for 1,000 gallons (1 unit) is $0.88 for water usage up to 2,000 gallons. From 2,000 gallons to 6,000 gallons the cost would increase to a $1.64 per unit. For example, 383 or 30% of the city’s 1,298 active users would see an increase between $1.53 and $2.41.

City staff are happy to share with any resident or business their estimated water bill increase, he said.

The money collected through the rate increase would also pay for a line locator. A line locator is a piece of equipment used to detect water or gas lines under ground.

The City of Willcox does not have a complete map of the city utilities, Blaschke said. After the line locator has been purchased, the city staff will be able to identify the city’s water and gas lines.

The city would also purchase pumping systems, a vehicle and a mini excavator. The city also intends to hire a consultant to identify the condition of the city’s 50-year-old sewer lines and another employee for the wastewater treatment plant.

“The employee will also be responsible for preventative maintenance such as cleaning lines and regulating businesses to ensure compliance with disposing of waste,” Blaschke said.

The city currently employs two wastewater treatment plant staff, Blaschke said. Other cities usually employ a minimum of four, he said.

Tim Bowlby, Willcox vice-mayor, voiced his support for the increase during the July council meeting.

The rate increase would raise roughly $200,000, of which $160,000 would be used for wastewater treatment plant equipment and infrastructure. The leftover funds would go to employee payroll.

“We’re not just raising the rates and budgeting this in for no reason,” said Bowlby.

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