Businesses prepare for impending water rate hike

White signs with bold red and white lettering decorate the Lariat Laundromat located on McLeod Street. 

The signs aren’t in celebration, but detail why the owner, Doug Lair, had to raise the washer and dryer rates for the first time in seven years.

“We’ve really reacted in about the only way we could,” he said.

The impending water and sewer rate increases in Big Timber will begin July 1 and businesses around town are readying for the financial hit to their budget expected at the end of the first month. With the increase, the average water and sewer base rates will increase to $91.16 — a jump of $35.99. 

Lair said he contacted his machine vendor and asked them to do a water demand study for the building so he could find ways to lower the impact his business will see when the rates kick in.

This was studied by seeing how much water is used if all the machines were filling up and running at once.

His solution was to lower the flow rate from his current 2-inch line to 1-inch, but that’s the smallest size he’s able to go.

Washers will jump from $2.75 per small load to $3.50 and from $5.50 to $6 for a larger load.

The driers will see a slight increase too, he said.

“We haven’t raised our prices since we opened in the fall of 2011,” he said. “We tried to keep it at the minimum.”

Lair said the laundromat would go out of business if he kept the line size at the two inch line, which he sees as a penalty on the local businesses with larger flow rates.

“The disappointing thing is I paid a $7,000 impact fee,” for the line size, he said. “Now that’s for nothing.”

The Grand owner Chris Dern said he hasn’t sat down and calculated out the rates yet, but acknowledged there was not a whole lot he can do about it.

“It is what it is,” he said.

Depending on how the first bill on the new rate system is he may have to reevaluate his budget, but for now he’s just going to wait and see. The current water and sewer bills are small compared to his other expenses, he noted.

“Ultimately the consumer is going to end up paying, so it’s just a matter of what that is,” Dern said.

To read the full story, pick up the June 15 edition of the Pioneer or subscribe to our e-edition. Current subscribers are provided complimentary access to the e-edition with registration.

 

Story and photos by Olivia Keith / Pioneer Staff Writer

 

 

CUTLINE:

 

 

Krista Farnum starts a load of clothes in the dryer at Lariat Laundromat Thursday, June  8. 

 

 

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