Understanding Utilities Rate Changes
In 2022, the City Council approved changes to water, sewer, and stormwater rates in IGH, which brought modest increases to utility bills. Here is a guide to understanding these changes.
What costs are covered by water and sewer utilities fees?
Water and sewer utility fees charged by the City cover not only the costs of the water used by your household. These fees also pay for the costs of operating IGH water treatment facilities and systems, including staff time and training, and repair and maintenance expenses. IGH is home to 160 miles of water mains, 1,600 fire hydrants and 10 million gallons of treated water in storage.
Aging Water System
The IGH water treatment facility began operating in 1998. As the water system ages, the costs of maintaining it increase until, eventually, the system will reach the end of its lifespan and will need to be repaired or replaced. Preparing for the depreciation of long-term City assets like our water system requires careful planning and the setting aside of funds to maintain it. Maintaining a system is usually more effective than deferring maintenance until an emergency occurs and must be immediately fixed. This is more costly.
As part of the City’s long-term planning process, staff looks at whether we are saving enough to cover both current and future infrastructure maintenance costs. If utilities maintenance costs are under-funded, the City considers modest rate increases to make up the difference.
Increased Fees for Treatment of Wastewater
Another challenge that IGH continues to address is an increase in the rate that the City is charged by the Metropolitan Council for the treatment of IGH wastewater. For every thousand gallons of water used by residents of IGH, the City pays a fee. If the Metropolitan Council raises the rates it charges for water treatment, local municipalities must either absorb that additional expense or pass it on to the residents and business owners who use city water and sewer services by raising water and sewer utility rates.
How did water and sewer rates change in 2022?
Water utility bills saw a 2% increase. Sanitary sewer bills saw a 5% increase. Properties in the northwest area had a $2.00 per 1,000 gallons surcharge added to the sewer portion of their bill. The effective date for these increases was the first billing period that contained only 2022 usage. For more info, view the "What to Expect on Your Bill" tab above.
How do I benefit from this rate increase?
Maintaining the IGH water system saves greater expense down the road, and it helps ensure that the City continues to offer a safe water supply and reliable infrastructure to residents and businesses as IGH grows.
What if I need assistance paying my bill?
There are resources available to residents experiencing financial hardship and need assistance with their utilities bills. View Utility Bill Assistance page.
What if I have utility bill questions?
Please contact City Hall at 651-450-2500 and staff will happily assist you.
What is a stormwater utility fee?
The City’s stormwater utility fee is a small utility charge for each property in IGH. The amount charged is based on property size and use. In general, larger properties and properties that have more impervious, hard surfaces (concrete parking lots) are charged a higher fee because hard surfaces generate more stormwater run-off than permeable surfaces (lawns) do.
History of stormwater management in IGH:
IGH created a stormwater utility service ten years ago and has since worked to improve stormwater management in our area, However, the City fell behind neighboring communities in the level funding and staff resources allocated to addressing stormwater management challenges. To illustrate, IGH charged roughly one-third of what neighboring cities charge for stormwater utility fees.
Additional Cost added to treat Stormwater Runoff
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency recently put into place new regulations requiring the treatment of stormwater runoff to better control the level of pollutants that eventually enter our water supply. The costs of compliance with these regulations are passed on to local units of government.
Sustainable Funding for Stormwater Management
Given that IGH is charged less than a sustainable amount for stormwater management in the past, and that the costs of treating stormwater have increased, the City is faced with the challenge of covering stormwater management expenses going forward. To address this problem, tthe City Council raised stormwater rates to reach parity with neighboring communities.
The City stormwater utility fund was set up to pay for operation and improvements related to flood prevention and environmental protection, and unfortunately, the fund did not keep up with changes occuring with bigger storms and greater requirements to prevent pollution from entering waterfeatures. Other cities that have kept up have rates three-times higher than those in IGH. Therefore, IGH adjusted stormwater rates upward for most properties by 25%. That equates to roughly 50 cents a month for a typical home.
Preparing for Extreme Weather Events
Extreme weather events that may cause flooding are becoming both more frequent and more likely. Managing increasing stormwater runoff will be essential to protecting property in IGH. Modest rate increases will boost capacity to steward resources and respond to the growing threat of floods as the climate changes.
What this means for your bill:
A 25% increase to the stormwater utility fee for most IGH properties was approved in 2022. While this might sound steep, it equals, on average, approximately $6 annually or approximately $1.50 per household per quarter in additional fees. This will vary based on property type. View the "What to Expect on Your Bill" tab above for more info.
What if I need assistance paying my bill?
There are resources available to residents experiencing financial hardship and who need assistance with utilities bills. View Utility Bill Assistance page.
It’s important to note that additional goals of the stormwater rate adjustments are fairness and equity between neighborhoods. Previously, some households paid more than others in stormwater management fees. For example, households in new developments in IGH paid about a three-times-higher stormwater rate than residents in long-established neighborhoods. Therefore, the 25% rate increase to most properties in 2022 did not affect recently developed property in newly developed neighborhoods, such as the northwest area of the city.
What are the benefits of increased fees to me as a resident?
When the City uses funds to better manage water quality and better defend this area from the effects of large storms, it protects the environment, water supply, land and property. Anytime someone drives down an IGH street during a heavy downpour, they are benefiting from sound stormwater management practices and associated stormwater utilities fees.
IGH continues to innovate in its stormwater management practices. City Council will continue to be transparent about the findings of stormwater rate studies and any subsequent need to raise fees.
Increases to Utilities Rates & Fees
Water and Sewer
In order to plan for system renewal and cover the increasing costs of water and sewer treatment, the City makes periodic increases to IGH water and sewer utility rates. For example, the average IGH water and sewer utility bill increased by 2% and the average IGH sewer utility bill will increased by 5% in 2022. Below is an example to help illustrate the impacts to your bill.
Residents who use City water and sewer are billed quarterly. IGH businesses are billed monthly. Residents fall into one of four billing cycles. For example:
If your water bill is $1200 annually, expect your bill to increase by $24/year, which would mean:
|Water & Sewer Customer
|Approx. Increase on each Bill
|Total Approx. Increase Annually
|$6 per quarter ($6 x 4)
|$2 per month ($2 x 12)
Stormwater utility fees increased by 25% for most IGH properties in 2022.
For an average single-family lot, expect your bill to increase by:
|Total Approx. Increase on each Bill
|Average Urban Residential Single-Family Lot
|$1.50 per quarter; $6 annually
What if I have more questions?
Should you have a question about your water or sewer utility bill, please contact City Hall at 651-450-2500 and staff will happily assist you.