Rate Hike Sought For Brooke Customers

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Brooke Utilities has filed an application with the Arizona Corporation Commission to raise basic rates as much as 84 percent for some of its northern Gila County customers.

The company's requested basic service charge increase to $23 would affect about 1,100 customers in small outlying subdivisions including Star Valley, Strawberry Knolls, Whispering Pines, Tonto Basin, Geronimo Estates and East Verde Park Estates.

The company is also seeking to raise service line and meter installation fees in some areas by more than $200 and has proposed a 40- to more than 100-percent increase in rates for water use above the minimum 1,000 gallons a month, depending on the area of service.

"An increase in rates is necessary to preserve the integrity of the water system," Brooke Utilities President Robert Hardcastle said in a letter sent to affected customers. The company also wants to provide a good rate of return to investors through increased revenues, he said.

The current basic service rate of $14 in Strawberry has been in effect for 13 years. Rates have not changed in the other areas since December 1988 or before.

Brooke customers in Mesa del Caballo and in Pine and other areas of Strawberry are not affected by this proposed rate increase.

"The process of determining rates is a regulated financial and mathematical calculation which considers the current state of the water system, what work has been conducted, what work remains to be conducted and what a fair rate of return to the company's shareholders should be," Hardcastle said Monday.

The Arizona Corporation Commission values consumer input and it will be an integral part of the commission's analysis of the proposed rate increase, Hardcastle said.

Brooke Utility customers in the areas of the proposed rate increase can send their comments to the Arizona Corporation Commission at 1200 W. Washington Ave., Phoenix, AZ 85007.

Customers should know that a decision can be made by the ACC without a formal hearing, Hardcastle said.

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