FORT DEFIANCE -- Fol-lowing a review of public comments, management staff recommendation and subsequent deliberation, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Management Board approved a resolution to increase base rates for three utilities -- water, wastewater and natural gas services.
At the same time, NTUA board members also reviewed the current Senior Citizen/Life Support Discount program and approved another resolution to initiate significant changes as a result of public comment.
"A majority of the comments we received and recorded centered around the elderly," said Kenneth L. Craig, NTUA Acting General Manager. "Individuals were concerned how the rate adjustment might impact the elderly, especially those on fixed incomes. Board members took those comments into consideration and adopted measures that will help out our elderly customers."
According to Craig, in an effort to reduce the financial impact to NTUA low-income elderly population, the Senior Citizen/Life Support discount program now offers a waiver of all service charges and a 10 percent discount (formerly at seven percent) on the total monthly utility bill if the individual is age 60 or over with an annual household income of less than $21,000.
Additionally, a typical Senior Citizens / Life Support Discount customer can expect to see a rate decrease of approximately $12.00 per month, using an average 25 therms of natural gas and 2,000 gallons of water and wastewater per month. Actual savings may vary based upon usage habits and household size.
The NTUA Management Board also voted to move forward with the multi-utility base rate increases for water, wastewater, and natural gas services. The new rates will be included on utility bills processed after Oct. 1, 2005.
The natural gas rate will increase by an average of 24 percent effective Sept. 1, 2005. The water rate will increase by a cumulative average of 42.7 percent and will be phased in over a 12-month period--with 18 percent becoming effective Sept. 1, 2005, another 18 percent increase to take effect March 1, 2006, and a 2.5 increase to become effective Sept. 1, 2006. The wastewater rate will increase by a cumulative average of 37 percent and will be phased in over the same 12-month period -- with 15 percent becoming effective September 1, 2005, another 15 percent increase to take effect March 1, 2006, and another 3.5 percent increase to become effective Sept. 1, 2006.
In 2004, NTUA initiated a rate study to review utility base rates. Following the study, it was determined that NTUA should adjust rates for water, wastewater treatment, and natural gas services due to the rising deficit and revenue shortfalls created by growth, demand, and inflation. The last time NTUA increased its utility rates was in 1992.