Safford – The Safford City Council approved changes to the utilities rate structure at the recent council meeting on Monday.
The vote for resolutions amending the rate structure for Gas and Electric Services passed unanimously. The proposal for amending the rate structure for Water Services passed 5 to 2 with Mayor, Jason Kouts, and Councilman Gene Seale voting against.
Safford City Manager, Horatio Skeete, said that the rate changes will take effect 30 days after the council approved the resolutions. Rates will remain the same for the current billing cycle but the new rates will apply to the next billing cycle.
While water rates will be increasing, the rates for gas and electric are going down. Skeete says that the net effect of the rate changes will result in an overall decrease in utility bills for Safford residence. Water customers in Thatcher and the county, however, will see an increase in water rates without the benefit of the reductions in Safford gas and electric rates.
Water rates will effectively go up 13% while electric rates are expected to decrease by 10% and gas rates by 5%. Skeete says that the revenue needs for water have increased by 13% necessitating the change in rate structure. The infrastructure of the water system is failing in some places and needs to be upgraded. Part of the failing system is the pipeline carrying water from Bonita Creek. The pipeline has to be replaced and as part of that process, a larger pipeline will be put in to accommodate future demand.