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SNWA Holds Town Hall on Rate Hike | News

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SNWA Holds Town Hall on Rate Hike

LAS VEGAS -- The tough economy is forcing the Southern Nevada Water Authority
to push up what customers pay for water.

The SNWA says it has tried to keep rates low, but it now
must hike rates. Under the proposed increase, the average family's monthly bill
would go up anywhere from $5 to $10 a month. Before the rate hike goes into effect,
the authority wants to hear from the public at a series of town hall meetings. The
first one is from 5 to 8 p.m. Monday at Sedway
Middle School in North Las Vegas.

The water authority says the increase is needed just to keep
its daily operations going. The agency says the bulk of its money came from new
home and business hook-up fees. However, when the economy tanked those fees
dried up. New connection fees dropped 95 percent between 2008 and this year.

In response, the water authority slashed its work force by
25 percent and put nearly $400 million worth of new construction projects on
hold. Now, those measures appear not to be enough. Public meetings will be held
this week so people can weigh in on one of three proposals. Each proposal
involves increasing in water rates, which is something very people agree with.

"I just think we are taxed enough on water. It is
getting to be where you do not know what to plant or how to go about doing
anything, not even washing your clothes or taking a bath because you are limited,"
Karen Cheney, who is against the increase, said.

SNWA says Las Vegas, Henderson and North Las Vegas
have some of the cheapest water rates in the western United States. The rate increase
would still put most monthly water bills well below the national average.

Comments made during Monday night's meeting will be given to
the water authority's board of directors. They will possibly make a decision on
February 29.

SNWA says the proposed pipeline to bring ground water from
other counties is not responsible for the rate increase. The authority says it
is far from funding the project. The rate hike will be used for daily

For more on the hike and to access a calculator to see how
much more a household would pay for water, go to snwa.com.