The town of Sheridan completed an overhaul of their sewer system last summer. Mayor Dean Derryberry spent the last few months examining the town’s rate structure to guarantee they were fair to residents.
“Our water rates are exactly where they need to be in order to cover our debt and operating and maintenance costs,” Derryberry said. “I was, however, unhappy with the sewer rates.”
Once Derryberry took a hard look at the rate structure, he requested John Weikel from Montana Rural Water collect data around Sheridan and assist in determining a fair rate structure.
“We knew when we first did the water rates last year that we were going to have to adjust the sewer rates also,” Weikel explained. “In Sheridan’s case, we’d been working with the numbers already and the mayor and council were really good to work with—we were fortunate in Sheridan.”
“We were, in fact, able to reduce the base rate for our sewer,” Derryberry said.
The national average shows that 50 percent of the water used in a home goes down the sewer. Singles, or families with few people, use less water than families with more people. Derryberry approached the Sheridan town council during the Nov. 12 meeting and presented a new idea for a fair rate structure.
“The base rate is down $5 from $47 to $43,” Derryberry explained. “Then, in addition, you pay $2 for every 1,000 gallons—you pay for what you use.”
The town council approved Derryberry’s new rate structure, but it will not be implemented until the agency that funded the new water system approves it. The funding agency must approve the town’s rate structure to ensure the rates will support Sheridan’s loan repayment.
Derryberry hopes this new structure will be approved and go into effect at the beginning of the new year—January.
“Most people will see very little change from what they pay now, but it is all based on usage,” Derryberry said. “The biggest benefactors will be commercial users because some of their bills used to be higher than their usage, which was not fair.”