Why is the City seeking utility rate increases?

    • We’ve been holding our rates down for as long as we responsibly can. If we don’t seek a funding increase, we will not be able to maintain the same level of service and will not be able to make necessary investments in infrastructure renewal.  

    • Utilities are enterprise funds, so income from rates must stay within the utility.

    How did you determine what the rates should be?

    • We hired a consultant to crunch the numbers to keep the increases as low as possible while ensuring we can still provide services, comply with regulations, and achieve our long-term goals. (See the links to the individual facility plans under the Documents section of this page.) 

    • The consultant analyzed our current needs as well as future needs as the city continues to grow.

    Why doesn't the City uses ARPA money instead of raising rates?

    • American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are designated for capital projects only, not operations.
    • We applied for ARPA competitive funding for several projects but received funding for a stormwater project only.
    • We would've needed to raise the rates even higher had the the City not received ARPA minimum allocation grants to pay for a series of capital projects.

    Why does the City keep buying properties if the utilities need more money?

    • Our property purchases are related to specific functions (areas where we will need to drill new water wells in the future) or to solve problems (Flynn-Lowney Ditch—don’t have to install culverts, removes force damaging riverbank next to City infrastructure, benefits to river health and fisheries—helps the city’s economy) that would be costly if not addressed.
    • Utilities are enterprise funds, so they are self-funded through the collection of utility rates and fees. Money from the general fund is not used to operate the utilities.

    What if I can't afford these utility rate increases?

    • We currently have a discount for our low-income water customers through the LIEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program), which is administered through the Missoula office of the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS). 

    • The state of Montana DPHHS is currently working on a low-income household assistance program to help with water and wastewater bills. Contact the Human & Community Services Division (HCSD) for more information.