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Water Fund

It is the responsibility of the Department of Public Works – Water Division to maintain a consistent and adequate flow of water to the City from the City’s water source at Berlin Pond. Raw water is transmitted via pipeline to the Water Filtration Facility for reduction or elimination of possible contaminates. The Water Treatment Plant was completed in fiscal year 2001.

A combination of user fees and water benefit charges fund the Water Division. Water Division staff maintain hydrants for fire protection, construct water lines, maintain control valves and gates, flush hydrants annually, keep daily records on water quality and consumption, repair leaks and mains, operate the water treatment facility, oversee land management of the City’s property in Berlin and support all systems associated with providing potable water to our customers. There are more than 3,000 water meters in the City of Montpelier (includes some Town of Berlin users) and each meter is read quarterly.

The Montpelier City Council, sitting as the Water & Sewer Commissioners, determines water rates. Water rates are reviewed annually in the spring. The current quarterly rates are as follows: $7.73 per 1,000 for the first 50,000 gallons, $8.21 per 1,000 for the next 200,000 gallons, $13.32 per 1,000 for over 250,000 gallons and a fixed charge for all accounts for meter reading, billing and other administrative service costs of $39.50. A water benefit charge of $.01 per $100 of property value is dedicated to the repayment of bonded indebtedness.

Annual water usage decreased more than 10 percent over the last seven years. This conservation of water use by the city residents and businesses is producing shortfalls in revenue for the Water Fund. The City Council’s Water and Sewer Rate Committee continues to work on restructuring the water and sewer rates to establish an adequate and equitable billing system for customers using a logical methodology in the calculation of the proposed rates’ components. Customers will be billed for non-variable costs using their assigned equivalent residential use (ERU). Meter readings will establish actual usage amounts that will be the basis for billing for variable costs. The implementation of the new rate structure is delayed from its original July 1, 2014 date due to the need to match water meter customers with their property’s city assessor records. A period of public outreach will be scheduled before restructuring the water rate billing process.

From 2005-2010 the Water Fund accumulated a deficit due to high fixed costs (debt) and a reduction in billable usage due to conservation. In the 2011-2014 fiscal years, the Water Fund reduced the prior years’ deficit by a total of $184,000. In the past two years, the cost of water line breaks has limited the Water Fund’s ability to improve the Water Fund’s financial position. Recent improvements to equipment have been made to reduce the number of water line breaks which should allow the fund to make significant progress on retiring the previous years’ deficit.

The Water Fund’s proposed fiscal year 2016 budget can be found online in the Annual Budget section. For budget questions, please contact the Finance Department at 223-9520. If you have a concerns or questions about your quarterly water bill, please contact the City Clerk’s Office at 223-9500 Option 2.

SANDRA J. GALLUP, Finance Director

 


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