A local water utility official announced a recent cost-saving endeavor at the city council meeting Tuesday, an effort that could mean a deceleration of future rate increases for consumers.

Global Water General Manager Jon Corwin spoke about a recent contract renegotiation with its call center service provider, Fathom, which will save the utility company money.

Corwin stated the new service agreement extends the length of the call center’s contract while reducing in-house costs to Global Water, changes he believes will contribute to less dramatic rate increases in the future.

“We think that’s a big win for us and ultimately for the customers in Maricopa,” Corwin said.
“[It will] provide better service, and also reduced costs that trickle down, ultimately, to rates.”

Rate increases are determined by a set schedule negotiated years in advance through the Arizona Corporation Commission, an organization that monitors investor-owned utilities, thus any changes will not have any immediate effect on currently planned rate hikes.

The agreement of yearly increases applies to eight years and went into effect in 2014.

Any cost-saving efforts that accumulate over time will be assessed by the ACC during future test years which, according to Corwin, will be sometime in the “distant future.”

“We don’t have a plan for when the next rate case will be,” Corwin said. “It’s not going to be 20 years from now, but we’re hoping it won’t be in the next few years.”

Though it’s unclear exactly when the next rate case will be or how much future rate increases will be slowed by the recent savings, it’s unlikely that without a test year planned for the near future Global Water will be presenting a request for rate increases prior to 2021 — the end of the current rate-increase schedule.

Current Global Water customers of the Santa Cruz and the Palo Verde water districts with 5/8-inch meters and an average usage of 5,000 gallons of water per month are set to see the following increases:

Santa Cruz (average cost of $31.10 per month in 2014)
2017: Increase of $2.34, to $33.44 (7.5 percent from 2014);
2018: Increase of $2.58, to $33.68;
2019: Increase of $2.81, to $33.91;
2020: Increase of $3.05, to $34.16;
2021: Increase of $3.07, to 634.18.

Palo Verde (average cost of $62.91 per month in 2014)
2017: Increase of $3.70, to $66.61 (5.9 percent from 2014);
2018: Increase of $4.43, to $67.34;
2019: Increase of $5.15, to $68.06;
2020: Increase of $5.88, to $68.79;
2021: Increase of $6.62, to $69.53.

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