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Saratoga Springs water rate hike on hold

After concerns were raised by the public and a few Council members, the Saratoga Springs City Council tabled a motion Tuesday night, March 18, that would raise water and sewer rates for city users.

During the public hearing that preceded a 90-minute presentation by Public Works Director William McTygue on the increase, former Mayor Valerie Keehn appealed to the Council to table the motion for further review.

I urge you to not take any action on this resolution tonight, she told the Council, adding that to vote on the increase without any further review would be "a disservice to the residents of the city."

City resident John Kraus, a former employee of the state Division of the Budget, and perennial city-finance critic, said he encouraged the Council to keep in the spirit of Sunshine Week (March 16-22) and "let the sun shine on this budget process and this increase." Sunshine Week is a national initiative promoting the principals of open government.

During his presentation, McTygue said the increase was relatively minor and would help restore a sound operational budget for water and sewer improvements and cover past operational deficits.

The city's water and sewer rates are based upon a 13-tier system that charges users based on water consumption. The first three categories that range in use from zero to 25,000 cubic feet of water comprise 97 percent of the city's water users.

The average city user consumes 3,500 cubic feet of water per year. A single cubic foot of water is equal to 7.5 gallons.

The first tier, users between zero and 2,000 cubic feet, which make up 55 percent of the total users, are slated for a $1.35 per 1,000 cubic feet increase to $10.40; second tier, 2,000 to 8,000 cubic feet, 36 percent of users, will see a $1.66 per 1,000 cubic foot increase to $12.50; and tier three, 8,000 to 25,000 cubic feet, six percent of users, will see a $1.74 increase, to $13.10 per 1,000 cubic feet.

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