Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

In St. Pete Beach, reclaimed water fees to increase

ST. PETE BEACH — Reclaimed water rates are scheduled to increase almost 21 percent over the next two years and, for the first time, nonusers will be charged an "availability fee."

On Tuesday, the City Commission approved the rate increase in the first of two required votes. If the hike passes again at the commission's June 22 meeting, it will go into effect Oct. 1.

The rate increase was recommended by consultants several months ago as a way to stem the reclaimed water system's flowing red ink. By the end of September, the city would have loaned the utility about $400,000 to cover its operational and maintenance costs intermittently since 2001. "The reclaimed water system should support itself," Public Works director Steve Hallock told the commission. "The system has a zero cash balance. It is broke and bleeding cash."

Hallock gave the commission two choices:

• Raise rates 39 percent just for current and future users.

• Raise rates 21 percent for users while charging nonusers a $7.70 monthly availability fee.

Currently, reclaimed water users pay $11.50 a month, a rate that has not changed for 10 years.

Property owners are not required to connect to the system, a situation that will not change. Approximately 80 percent of city property owners are connected to the system — 2,205 single family homes, 920 multifamily units and 758 commercial properties.

However, if the selection rate schedule is adopted, the approximately 800 property owners who never connected to the system will be required to pay a fee for the ability to connect.

The new proposed rates for users will be $12.88 a month beginning in October plus another $1.03 per month beginning in October 2011, bringing the total new monthly cost for users to $13.91 (a 20.95 percent increase).

The new fees will enable the system to operate independently and begin to pay back the $400,000 loan from the general fund.

The selected rate increase will be phased in over two years with the bulk of the hike effective in October.

The reclaimed water system is the result of a 1992 referendum when voters approved borrowing $24 million from the state to construct distribution lines to every property in the city. The loan will be completely paid in 2016. The reclaimed water itself is produced by and purchased from Pinellas County.

Only Commissioner Bev Garnett voted against the rate increase, arguing that although she recognizes the need to increase rates, she is opposed to charging a fee to nonusers.

Vice Mayor Jim Parent said city officials think the new availability fee will encourage some of the present nonusers to connect to the system and discourage users from dropping out.

"We are just looking for a fair rate. We want to stop the bleeding and get the system back in the black," Hallock said.

In St. Pete Beach, reclaimed water fees to increase 06/12/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 3:53pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Winter Haven police investigating armed robbery at Dollar General

    Crime

    WINTER HAVEN — Police are investigating an armed robbery Friday night of a Dollar General store on W Lake Ruby Drive.

  2. Rowdies settle for draw at home

    Soccer

    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  3. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays scored that many in a single game during their two-plus week numbing stretch of offensive impotency, and in a home game in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  4. 'Free speech rally' cut short after massive counterprotest

    Nation

    BOSTON — Thousands of demonstrators chanting anti-Nazi slogans converged Saturday on downtown Boston in a boisterous repudiation of white nationalism, dwarfing a small group of conservatives who cut short their planned "free speech rally" a week after a gathering of hate groups led to bloodshed in Virginia.

    Thousands of people march against a “free speech rally” planned Saturday in Boston. About 40,000 people were in attendance.
  5. Police pull unconscious New Port Richey man from SUV in Cotee River

    Accidents

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Police rescued an unconscious driver whose sport utility vehicle plunged into the Cotee River on Saturday.