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Locals awaiting water meters concerned about steep rate hikes in Ammon

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Ammon citizens address the Mayor and City Council during Thursday’s public hearing. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

AMMON — For those hundreds of Ammon residents waiting for water meters to be installed, the proposed water meter rates mean paying significantly more than they pay now — regardless of how much water they use.

During Thursday’s public hearing on the city’s proposed water meter rates, multiple residents expressed concern about the rate hikes for homes without meters. While they wait for meters — a process that could take up to six years — they would pay either $50 or $70 per month under the proposal. Currently, they only pay $38.25 or $45.75 depending on their lot size.

“I’m extremely disappointed the people who don’t have meters are being penalized,” former Ammon Mayor Steve Fuhriman said during the hearing. “I do not think that we who do not have meters installed yet should be discriminated against like this.”

Ammon resident Phyllis Ker and others suggested the city allow them to keep paying their current flat rates until the city installs meters on every house.

“At least hold it until you can let me affect my price or make it a little more reasonable,” she said.

Ker said it is unfair for unmetered residents to be charged a higher rate and not have any way of lowering it.

“There’s a lot of people who are going to suffer from this,” Ker said during the hearing.

Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti said he believed the fairest thing for unmetered properties was to charge the average rate for properties in their property zones.

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“These aren’t arbitrary numbers that we’re throwing out. They’re established based on data and facts,” Coletti told EastIdahoNews.com.

Another main concern for residents at the hearing was that the City Council moved away from the original plan of having tiered meter rates.

“No way should people that are trying to conserve — the lower users — be paying the same rate as those people that are abusing the system,” resident Leslie Folsom said during the hearing.

Folsom was on the water meter advisory board in 2017. At that time, the board decided on proposing a tiered meter rate.

That flat rate was $30 for 7,000 gallons. Between 7,001 to 20,000 gallons, residents would pay an additional 80¢ per 1,000 gallons. Between 20,001 to 35,000 gallons, they would be $1.20 per 1,000 gallons. Anything over 35,000 gallons would be $1.40 per 1,000 gallons.

“A tiered rate rewards people who conserve and punishes those who do not,” Folsom told EastIdahoNews.com.

The council eventually decided to do away with the tiered rate idea. Instead, they opted for a base $30 rate with an additional $1 charge for every 1,000 gallons used.

Folsom said what the city opted for is better, conservation-wise, than a flat rate, but still not nearly good enough.

“I thought we were going for tiered rates. I’m very disappointed we’re not. I think we need to reexamine that. I think the committee doing all the research and everything really needs to look at that,” Fuhriman said.

The City Council will vote on what metered rates they will adopt at a later date.

“We’ve definitely listened to the concerns, and we will consider them the next time we come together and meet on this,” Coletti said.

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