DONNA, RGV – Donna City Council has announced it will reduce its water and sewer rates by five percent.

Council members say the cumulative savings for a customer every month on a water bill will be ten percent.

Dan V. Jackson

Donna City Council recently contracted Economists.com for an independent consultant to conduct an analysis of the City’s water and sewer rates. Consultant Dan V. Jackson, who undertook the study, reviewed the City’s operating expenditures and proposed capital improvement projects for the next ten years along with revenues being generated to make his recommendation.

“The City has made some very difficult decisions in the past to increase rates in order to make improvements to a utility system which was previously in very bad shape. The system needed a large infusion of money to bring the system into compliance with state law and to correct previous years of maintenance that was lacking. The result has been a more efficient system and less maintenance. Therefore, working with staff we have come up with a plan to reduce rates and spread out financing for more improvements over a five-year period,” Jackson told the Rio Grande Guardian.

The initial recommendation from Jackson was to reduce water by two percent and sewer by five percent. However, city council members urged interim city manager and consultant Ernesto Silva to reduce rates by at least five percent for water and five percent for sewer. Silva presented an ordinance that took into account the views of city commissioners – a decrease in water rates by five percent and a decrease in sewer rates by five percent. Silva’s recommendation was approved by city council members.

In the deliberations, the council was presented a graph showing an average bill for a customer using 10,000 gallons at the existing rates and a graph showing an average bill for a customer using 10,000 gallons at the proposed rates, as compared to other cities in the Valley. The graph showed that the new rates would reduce the monthly customer bill by approximately $3.00. It also indicated that a customer in Donna would be paying less than most customers of other cities in the Valley.

The new, lower, rates will be confirmed after a second reading of the ordinance, slated for later this month. Residents should start to see savings on their February water bill, Silva explained.

“We have made a large investment in upgrading our technology in order to reduce staff and save on operational costs for the utility system. The new water meters that will be in place by February will save money by cutting the need to have meter readers,” Silva said.

He added that the meter readers will be reassigned to the City’s Utilities Department in order to better maintain the utility system, thus reducing the need for the city to hire additional personnel.

Silva explained that the city council had previously approved a $1.3 million contract with RG3 Meter Company to replace all existing water meters in the City. “The current water meters are read physically by a water meter reader which requires employees to physically go and read the current meters. The new meters will be read in real time via radio and will require no personnel,” Silva said. “We will be analyzing our revenues and expenditures this coming summer and I anticipate to lower rates for the next fiscal year.”