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May 2024

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Village Of Questa’s Current Water Rate No Longer Sustainable

Current Water Rate Comparison
Questa: $19.76
Hatch: $29.01
Eagle Nest: $34.36
Angel Fire: $36.12
Estancia: $46.44

After months of discussion, Questa’s Village Council may be ready to move on utility rate increases for water and sewage services.

Inflation is battering the Village of Questa and infrastructure costs are now out-pacing revenue streams, particularly as regards its water system. The village currently has the lowest base water rate compared to several other comparable municipalities throughout New Mexico.

The Village of Questa has been diligent about keeping water rates low for its residents. In reviewing water rate changes since October of 2008, Village water rates have increased by a meager 20 percent while, nationally, the cost-of-living has gone up by 40 percent.

Village officials, including Finance Director and Village Administrator Karen Quintana Shannon, have been warning the Village Council about water revenues lagging behind costs. Councilwoman Louise Gallegos said back in December, “We’ve known for a long time that we had to raise rates, we didn’t because we didn’t want to burden our residents; but the time has come.”

The Village is basing a potential rate increase decision on data from a 2019 study, “Water Rate Analysis for Village of Questa, New Mexico,” done under the previous mayoral administration by the University of New Mexico’s Southwest Environmental Finance Center. The analysis encourages raising water rates to increase pay and benefits for Questa public works employees, who currently make substantially less than other public works employees throughout the state, create an emergency fund to ensure the Village can adequately respond to and address emergencies around the aging infrastructure, and create a reserve for replacing the aging infrastructure, which would include increasing water storage, better pumping capacity, and future expansion of the current infrastructure.

Currently, the set rate increase amount has not yet been decided. The council heard from the public about this proposed change on Feb. 28 and the Village is reviewing the matter and will be making a decision.