Council concerned about Az American water rate hike request; ACC sets new hearing date in Surprise
Surprise AZ (July 1, 2011; revised July 25, 2011) The Surprise City Council is expressing strong concern over a rate hike case in which a private water company seeks to increase rates by more than 80% to tens of thousands of Surprise households and HOAs.
Arizona American Water is asking the Arizona Corporation Commission, which regulates utility rates, to approve the increase. According to a city staff analysis requested by Council, 24,751 Arizona American residential customers in Surprise would be affected by the rate hike and the average bill would rise $25.13 per month, or 82.89%.
"This will also increase the irrigation costs subdivision HOAs pay for maintenance of community parks and landscaped areas," said Public Works Director Bob Beckley in his report to Council Thursday night.
The Corporation Commission plans a public hearing on the rate increase August 17 at the Commission's Office in Phoenix and has added a public hearing date in Surprise, August 22, 6 p.m., Sonoran Plaza, 19753 N. Remington Drive, Surprise, AZ 85374.
Council members expressed concern that residents may not be aware of the pending rate increase since the notifications mailed by Arizona American said the increase affected the "Agua Fria Water District." The Agua Fria Water District is the company’s designation for the service area encompassing most of Surprise, but council members said many residents are unaware of this, since Arizona American water bills rarely mention it.
Council directed staff to encourage residents to learn about the rate increase and contact the Corporation Commission to make their feelings known. The Council also directed staff to prepare a letter to the Commission and a resolution expressing Council concerns. In addition to concerns over the size of the increase and the possible ineffectiveness of Arizona American’s notification efforts, the Council wanted to encourage the Commission to hold at least one additional public hearing on the impact to Surprise residents and HOAs. The Council will review the proposed letter at an August 2 Work Session and intends to act on the letter and resolution at its next regular meeting August 9.
Customers can express their comments to the Arizona Corporation Commission in advance of the August public hearings via the Commission’s website, www.azcc.gov.
The affected area represents virtually all of Surprise except for roughly the southeastern quadrant of the city. The affected areas are shown in the map below in the blue-line shading.
Arizona American Water Boundary Map
Click to enlarge