Customers may have noticed a nudge in their utility billing in the first month of this year. Gardner keeps growing, and has surged  in population from two decades ago.
Gardner completed a water utility rate study and an electric rate study, said Amy Foster, business service manager.
“Water rates were increased to provide improved service,” Foster explained. “The most notable is the water plant expansion that was needed to increase water capacity to eliminate the need for future mandatory water restrictions. The adopted rate increase will pay for those improvements. The commercial customers were affected differently based on meter size.”
The water rate adjustment reflects preparation for the population expansion and the increase in water needs. Gardner will raise water rates by 3.7 percent in 2020 and each year through 2030.
“This increase will help fund several capital improvement projects, including expanding the city’s water treatment capacity and implementing conservation systems,” according to Gardner’s website. “The city experienced a water warning in summer 2018, which required residents to adhere to a nearly eight-week mandatory water restriction schedule. The rate change will help the city take the proper steps to mitigate the chance for future water shortages.”
Each business was affected based on its own historical data and where it qualified on the new rate structure, Foster said. In contrast, residential electric customers will see a reduction of two percent on monthly bills, and businesses will experience rate adjustments in accordance to historical usage, as well. The all-electric class of customer was omitted, and those customers were moved into the appropriate electric rate class, Foster said.
“The electric rate study indicated that no additional revenues needed to be generated,” Foster said. “However, the revenue resources needed to be reallocated among the different class of customers. The rate study completed an unbundling of cost associated to a kWh of electricity by rate class and the revenue requirement needed for each class to recover the cost of providing the kWh.”
Businesses can call the Utility Billing Division at 913.856.7535 regarding new rates, which vary from business to business.
Looking ahead, a one percent increase in sewer service will become effective January 2025, to generate funds for repairs and to prepare for future development.
The Gardner website explains, “By being proactive and implementing these rate adjustments now, the city can prevent large utility rate spikes from impacting our customers.”