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Missouri American Water employees are shown shutting off a water main early last winter at the intersection of Sixth and Edmond. The Missouri Public Service Commission has approved new rates that are are designed to spell relief for St. Joseph’s average water users due to the federal tax cut program.

Numerous Missouri American Water customers in the St. Joseph area soon will earn a measure of solace in the form of lower monthly bills.

That’s the message from the Missouri Public Service Commission, which has approved rates stemming from a case the utility filed with regulators almost a year ago. The new rate schedule takes effect on Memorial Day, Monday, May 28.

Information released Wednesday by Missouri American reflects reduced costs for water users in four of six usage categories, not counting taxes and fees. For example, the most common user — at the 4,000 gallon per month level — will notice a new monthly bill of $33.99, a reduction of almost 1 percent.

Those who only use 1,000 gallons of water per month will see monthly bills fall by 24 percent to $15.25, while those who use 2,000 gallons will have bills that reflect a decline of more than 13 percent to $21.49. Others who use 3,000 gallons of water will have their bills drop by just over 6 percent to $29.54 a month.

Increased costs begin to impact those who use higher amounts of water per month. For instance, those who use 5,000 gallons of water will have their bills rise by about 3 percent to $40.23, while bills for those who use 6,000 gallons will rise more than 6 percent to $46.48.

Missouri American spokeswoman Christie Barnhart said fixed charges, which don’t change on monthly statements, will decline to $9 a month for a customer with a 5/8-inch meter from the present $15.33.

“This is most residential customers that do not have a sprinkler system,” she said. “This (increased costs per higher use) gives the customer more control over the monthly bill than what it was when the fixed charge was higher. This will especially appeal to a lot of customers that are very stringent on how they use water.”

A rate case with the Missouri Public Service Commission was filed by the utility to compensate for slightly more than $200 million of infrastructure investments made in its service areas not reflected in past cases, including about $9.6 million in work performed in St. Joseph.

Officials also said the rates reflect $18 million in savings for customers because of the new federal tax cuts program. Missouri American is the first regulated water and sewer company in the state to adjust its customer rates based on the tax cuts.

Sewer costs in St. Joseph were unaffected, since the local system is operated by city government.

More information on the rates can be found at www.amwater.com/moaw/.

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Ray Scherer can be reached at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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