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Economy Nothwithstanding, We’re Still Buying Water

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The economic downturn has left the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority’s budget relatively unscathed.

The budget, which is on the agenda for next week’s utility board meeting, calls for no rate increases or job cuts. Other than a slight reduction in the last year as a result of conservation efforts, water consumption has not dropped in response to the economic downturn, according to utility executive Mark Sanchez.

Revenue from water sales is estimated at $59.2 million next year, up from $58.2 million this year.

The only effect of the downturn is a reduction over the last several years in “utility extension charges,” the fee paid to connect a new home or business to the water system. But while that revenue has tanked as a result of the recession, Sanchez noted that has had little effect on the overall budget because the cost of providing service to those new customers also has dropped, making it a wash.

The only exception to the “no rate hike” plan involves customers of the old New Mexico Utilities on Albuquerque’s west side, a private company whose operations were taken over by the ABCWUA a year ago. Those residents will see a rate hike of up to 3 percent to cover their share of the cost of the utility’s San Juan-Chama drinking water project.

The proposed budget is on line here (pdf). The meeting to consider its passage is May 19, beginning at 5 p.m., at the Albuquerque City Hall.


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