Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Port Richey Council sees plan to revamp utility rates

PORT RICHEY — More than two years after raising water and sewer rates and drawing the ire of customers, the City Council has gotten a first look at a plan to revamp Port Richey's utility rates.

A Tampa consultant specializing in utilities analysis, Burton & Associates, is proposing an overall 3.5 percent increase each year for the next five years, with the first bump beginning in October.

The city commissioned Burton to complete the in-depth $27,000 study last October after a $10,000 emergency study previously done by the firm found problems with the current rate structure.

Burton found while a rate structure implemented in 2010 is covering operating costs for the city's utilities, they are not bringing in enough funds for needed capital improvements to an aging infrastructure with some components that are 80 years old.

In addition, the rates approved in 2010 outraged mobile home park residents and commercial users whose rates skyrocketed. There was so much outrage among mobile home park residents that the city put five mobile home parks back on the old 2002 rates until the new structure could be re-examined.

City Manager Tom O'Neill said he then used emergency funds to hire Burton, which found the city's rate structure was not equitable among all customer classes, so much so that lawsuits were threatened.

During Tuesday's workshop at City Hall, Burton senior vice president Andrew Burnham told the City Council that recommendations in the new study would be fairer and could be defended in court.

"They will survive a legal challenge all day long," Burnham said.

If the proposal is approved, it would mean rate increases for some customers and decreases for others. A single-family home using 3,000 gallons per month would go from $42.80 to $44.67 — a $1.87 increase or 4.4 percent. But residential rates would also be geared toward conservation so if a home reaches the 5,000 gallon mark it would be a 20.5 percent or $11.59 bump, from $56.52 to $68.11.

Neither increase sat well with Council member Terry Rowe who said the increases for residents will be a hard sell to the public.

"They will run us out of town if we do that," he told the Tampa Bay Times.

As for the mobile home park units on master meters the city bills in one lump sum, the study proposes each unit pay a fraction of the residential base charge because mobile homes use less than single-family homes.

That means many mobile home parks would still see a rate increase from the 2002 rates they are currently paying, but not on the scale of the 2010 rates from which they were granted relief. It was a detail pointed out to a resident who spoke at the workshop from the Senate Manor park.

If the study's rates are implemented, Senate's 395 units would see a $7.53-a-month increase per unit from the 2002 rates, much lower than the $24-a-month increase residents were hit with when the 2010 rates were put in place. City Council member Steve O'Neill said an increase of $7.53 over a decade is a good deal.

"That's a bargain. That's a bargain all day long," he said.

If the study is approved, commercial customers will be seeing the biggest break from the 2010 rate increase of between 30 and 40 percent. City Manager O'Neill told the Times the Burton study found that commercial customers were paying a rate unequal to residential based on usage.

Port Richey Council sees plan to revamp utility rates 01/18/13 [Last modified: Friday, January 18, 2013 8:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. 24-year-old man charged with murder in shooting at Andrea Cove Motel

    LARGO — Pinellas sheriff's officers arrested a 24-year-old transient man Saturday in connection with a homicide at the Andrea Cove Motel in unincorporated Largo.

  2. Photo gallery: Calvary Christian rolls to state title

    Blogs

    View a gallery of images from Calvary Christian's defeat of Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers for the Class 4A title.

    Calvary Christian players circle up on the field before the FHSAA class 4A baseball championship against Pensacola Catholic on Friday May 27, 2017 at Hammond Stadium in Fort Myers, Fla. Calvary scored 6 runs in the first inning, and had 7 hits.
  3. Two girls found safe after being reported missing in New Port Richey

    UPDATE: Both girls were found safe Saturday night, police said.

  4. IT failure blamed for British Airways cancellations (w/video)

    Airlines

    LONDON — British Airways canceled all flights from London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday as a global IT failure upended the travel plans of tens of thousands of people on a busy U.K. holiday weekend.

    Passengers wait at a British Airways check-in desk after the airport suffered an IT systems failure Saturday at London''s Gatwick Airport. [Associated Press]
  5. Calvary Christian routs Pensacola Catholic to win state baseball title

    Baseballpreps

    FORT MYERS — Calvary Christian left no doubt as to which baseball team in Class 4A was the best in Florida this season. The Warriors defeated Pensacola Catholic 11-1 in six innings Saturday night at Hammond Stadium to claim the school's first state championship in any team sport. It also solidified a 30-0 season. …

    Matheu Nelson celebrates after scoring on a wild pitch during the first inning, when Calvary Christian took a 6-0 lead.