Sewer rates for Foothills residents won't begin a 162-percent climb in October.
Officials with Far West Water and Sewer missed its goal of state-mandated paperwork being completed in time for the rate to go into effect next month, the company announced late Friday.
If Far West had been able to complete that paperwork, the company would have needed to deliver written notices of the rate increase to the post office Monday in order for the new rate to begin Oct. 1. According to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), the new rate can only begin on the first of a month after official notifications have been mailed.
Far West is now aiming for a Nov. 1 start date for the new monthly sewer rate, which will raise from $21.75 to $56.92 in two phases spread over six months.
Ray Jones, a consultant working for the company, stressed that Far West has done everything in its power to expedite the process, which he called "quite complex." Jones said the process is now at the stage of waiting for submitted documents to be handled by the state.
"We have submitted everything that was requested of the company, that was within our control," Jones said. "The company is disappointed. We would like to put the new rates into effect as soon as possible."
The accounting and documentation requirements mandated by the ACC range from filing plans for debt payment to documenting compliance with state environmental regulations.
Jones said the only remaining hurdle is waiting for the state's environmental department to submit documentation to the ACC.
Far West officials, who have described their financial situation as "grim," stress that the extra income is needed for the company to avoid bankruptcy, maintain services and hopefully grow.
The 162-percent increase is 26 percent less than the hike originally requested that customers called everything from "criminal" to "obscene."
Darin Fenger can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6860.