2012 Utility Fee Survey Results – Part I

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For the past few months, I’ve been conducting a Utility Fee Survey to research what fees utilities charge and how much they charge for each fee.

The results include too much information for a single issue. This is the first of three consecutive Utility Information Pipelines publishing the results of the Utility Fee Survey. Since it will take three issues to publish the results, the next two issues will be published weekly instead of bi-weekly.

Demographics of survey respondents

88 utilities, from 15 states, ranging in size from 200 to 168,500 active accounts participated in the survey. Refer to the charts of the various demographic data below:

Water and sewer tap and impact fees

The first fees the survey asked about were water and sewer tap and impact fees. There are a couple key distinctions to keep in mind when comparing tap and impact fees.

Tap fees should recover the cost of making the actual water or sewer tap. This includes direct costs such as labor, materials and vehicle use as well as any indirect costs associated with completing the tap. Tap fees are classified as operating revenues.

Impact fees, sometimes called availability fees or system development charges, are designed to cover the incremental capital cost of adding an additional user to the water or sewer system. Impact fees are classified as non-operating revenues.

Residential water tap fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $75.00 to $3,500.00 as shown below:

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer tap fees ranging from $50.00 to $5,250.00 as depicted by this graph:

Residential water impact fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $200.00 to $25,754.00 as shown in this graph:

Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer impact fees ranging from $53.75 to $22,750.00 as shown here:

Upcoming issues

Part II – June 5, 2012

Next week’s issue deals with delinquent account fees and policies, including late fees, cut-off fees and after hours reconnect fees.

Part III – June 12, 2012

The final survey results issue showcases any remaining fees, including application, returned check, meter reread, meter tampering and convenience fees.

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