The Kennewick Irrigation District will roll out its final draft of a proposed water rate schedule Tuesday night at the Red Lion Hotel in Kennewick.
"We have a room that will handle 500 people," said Chuck Freeman, KID's secretary-manager.
KID staff, the board of directors and members of the Water Rate Advisory Committee hope most of the seats will be filled and that ratepayers will say what they like and don't like about the proposed changes.
Freeman said most of KID's urban customers, those with residential lots that are less than a half-acre, should see reductions in their irrigation water rates under the proposed schedule. But property owners who have large lots could see rate increases.
Freeman said residents on 5-acre parcels in Badger Canyon, for example, would have their water costs go up if KID directors adopt the proposed rates.
The public meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Kennewick Red Lion, 1101 N. Columbia Center Blvd.
Freeman said the purpose of the meeting, which is the last public opportunity for comments outside of a regular KID board meeting, is to learn details about a recent cost of service and rate study completed.
Meeting notices have been mailed to all 21,000 district customers.
KID hired a consultant, Financial Consulting Solutions of Redmond, to do a comprehensive analysis of the district's water distribution system. The analysis, which has taken more than a year, identified costs associated with the main canal components, pumping costs and piping costs for each customer service area.
The analysis also determined a fixed cost, and considered gravity and pressurized service areas, as well as private line areas in the areas served by KID's 90-mile canal distribution system.
Freeman emphasized that the proposed new rate structure will not, if adopted, result in any additional revenue.
"Overall customers' payments will be the same," Freeman said in a prepared statement.
"This study will allocate charges differently though, so some will see decreases and some will see increases," he said.
"The goal of the project to adjust the rate structure is to make certain assessments are apportioned fairly and equitably among all of the district's customers," Freeman said in a news release.
"We want feedback so the public isn't surprised," he said.
Freeman said Tuesday will be the first time the public will be able to ask what their charge would be under the proposed rates.
"We will have something like a mortgage calculator, so people can see what this means to them," Freeman said.
Tuesday night's meeting is the culmination of several years' worth of discussions and public complaints about an 11-tiered rate structure created in 2009.
Critics of that rate system said it favored farmers and owners of large properties, while putting most of the rate burden on owners of smaller, urban lots.
The cost of the water delivered, based on the amount of acreage served, was more advantageous to larger pieces of land, some people argued.
David McKenzie, who was president of the KID Water Rate Advisory Committee and now is president of the KID board, said in a release that the board wants to find the "best approach for serving our community, as well as listening to opinions of KID's customers."