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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Pete mulling utility rate hike to help fix sewers



After more than 40 million gallons of sewage was spilled or pumped from an aging, overwhelmed system, the city plans to spend millions in coming years to fix pipes, improve manholes and increase capacity in the city's three wastewater plants.

To help pay for the fix, the city is proposing to increase utility rates, according to a draft proposal.

Originally estimated to rise 3.75 percent overall in a consultant rate study last year, the new recommendation is for a 4.25 percent overall hike in rates.

On Thursday, the City Council's Budget, Finance and Taxation Committee gets an initial look at the plan, which city officials said could change---even before that meeting.

If the proposal remains unchanged, the average resident who uses 4,000 gallons of water and wastewater per month would see their bill increase from $111 to $115.29 if they use reclaimed water to water their lawn as do 12 percent of residents. That's a 3.86 percent increase.

The majority of residents who don't use reclaimed water will see their bills increase from $90.58 to $94.00 ---a 3.77 percent increase.

Those bills include sanitation fees, which lower the overall utility rate increase. Sanitation fees are expected to remain the same at $25.28.

That would help pay for the sewer fix, but it's not set in stone.

"We are open to other options and can explore how rates will be impacted!" read one page of the proposal on Tuesday.

Water Resources Director Steve Leavitt said Wednesday that there is still a lot of discussion about the bigger increase and the proposal is still being vetted.

Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley and a consultant are scheduled to present the rate increase at Thursday's 8 a.m. meeting in Room 100 at City Hall.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 27, 2016 2:19pm]


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