Westminster City Council voted Monday night to approve two separate bills that will increase utility fees for both developers and consumers.
Bill No. 37 calls for a net 10 percent water rate increase and a net 16 percent sewer rate increase in 2019, as well as a net 10 percent water rate increase and a net 12 percent sewer rate increase in 2020.
Bill No. 38 calls for an increase in the tap fees from $31,317 in 2018 to $32,190 in 2018. Tap fees are one-time fees developers pay to connect to the city's water and wastewater systems.
Some residents have complained about the rate hikes proposed in Bill No. 37, saying they are too much.
Westminster Public Works & Utilities Director Max Kirschbaum said the proposed hikes are the result of a study that found the estimated value of the city's water and sewer infrastructure is $4 billion. That infrastructure includes things like treatment plants, pipes and pumping facilities.
"We have a capital improvement project program that we continuously evaluate," Kirschbaum said. "We bring forward to council each two-year period the list of projects that are most critical to the utility. ... Those projects are either exclusively or predominantly targeted at taking care of the existing infrastructure, taking care of what we already own."
There is a calculator on the Westminster website to help residents understand how much more they will be paying. The calculator does not apply to commercial businesses, and the city will be sending letters to every commercial business they have a contract with to give them updated numbers.
Brother and sister Sarah and Dave Knight, owners of the Church Ranch Cash Wash, said they were worried the rate hike could put them out of business. At the time, they were looking at the online calculator for residents, and the city says their bill will be significantly less than what the calculator shows, Kirshbaum said.
Kirschbaum said the rate hikes are appropriate to take care of the $4 billion worth of assets the city owns.
"They properly allow us to perform both the operating cost of the utility, as well as to address the project needs of our utility as a system," Kirschbaum said.
Kirschbaum also said the increases are based on a balance between what residents pay and what commercial businesses pay.
"The adjustments are very targeted based on [a] cost of service analysis that we performed," he said.
Westminster plans to do about $120 million in utility capital improvement projects in 2019, and another $14 million in 2020, Kirschbaum said.
The increase of funds as a result of the rate hikes will also be used to increase Westminster Public Works and Utilities' operating budget, Kirschbaum said.
"Our operating budget has grown at a nominal rate over the last 5 years to address commodity price increases," he added.
Operating budget costs include things like staffing, chemicals for water treatment, pipes, pumps or any part necessary to take care of or maintain emergencies that would occur such as a water main break.
"It's the everyday cost of running a large utility,"Kirschbaum said.
Kirschbaum said developers did not object to Bill No. 38 asking for the increase in the tap fee.
The controversial proposal was finalized on Monday.