For the past few months, I’ve been conducting the 2017 Utility Fee Survey. This is an update to the original Utility Fee Survey in 2012 and the 2015 Utility Fee Survey. The survey was designed to research what fees utilities charge, how much they charge for each fee, and to see what changes have taken place in the last two years.
The Utility Fee Survey has become a biennial survey, alternating years with the Utility Staffing Survey.
As was the case in each of the previous surveys, the results include too much information for a single issue. If you’re interested, here are the results from the 2012 and 2015 Utility Fee Surveys:
This is the first of three consecutive Utility Information Pipelines publishing the results of the 2017 Utility Fee Survey.
Demographics of survey respondents
118 utilities (an 11.3% increase from 2015), representing 19 states, ranging in size from 88 to 75,000 active accounts participated in the survey. Click on the links below to see charts of the various demographic data:
Tap fees and impact fees
The survey started with water and sewer tap and impact fees. There are some key distinctions to bear 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.
For utilities charging an impact fee based on number of bedrooms, monthly or daily usage, or square footage, I assumed three bedrooms or 3,000 gallons per month or 1700 square feet.
Residential water tap fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $50.00 to $10,925.00 as shown below (clicking on the any of the graphics will open a larger image in a new window):
Two other utilities charge based on the time and materials cost incurred for a residential water tap – one at actual cost and one at cost plus ten percent.
Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer tap fees ranging from $50.00 to $15,000.00 as depicted by this graph:
One additional utility charges the actual time and materials cost incurred plus ten percent for a residential sewer tap.
Residential water impact fees charged by utilities responding to the survey range from $200.00 to $3,900.00 as shown in this graph:
Two additional utilities charge water impact fees that vary based on construction.
Utilities responding to the survey charge residential sewer impact fees ranging from $200.00 to $5,100.00 as shown here:
Three additional utilities charge sewer impact fees that vary based on construction.
The next issue will deal with delinquent account fees and policies, including late fees, cut-off fees and after hours reconnect fees.
The final survey results issue showcases any remaining fees, including application, returned check, meter reread, meter tampering and convenience fees.
A special offer
I’m offering a special offer to the first five Utility Information Pipeline readers who respond. If you are one of the first five to respond, I will conduct a personalized fee consultation for one-third off the regular price. That’s $1,000 rather than the usual $1,500 price for this service!
I will review your utility’s current fee schedule and conduct an in-depth phone assessment to learn more about your fees. You will receive a presentation quality document illustrating how your fees compare with other utilities. Also included will be my recommendations for revising any existing fees and suggestions of new fees you should consider charging.
If you are interested in this special offer, please contact me by calling 919-232-2320 or e-mailing me at email@example.com. Remember, the special discount offer is only available to the first five people who respond!
© 2017 Gary Sanders