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TAMPA TO RAISE SEWER RATES

Utility customers will see a 40 percent boost over next three years.

Higher sewer rates will hit the city's utility customers just in time for the holidays.

The City Council on Thursday voted to boost sewer rates by 40 percent over the next three years, with the increase set to take effect Oct. 1.

The increasemeans the average residential sewer charge will go from the current $33.60 a month to $46.50 by 2012.

City officials say the increase is necessary because revenue from fees is declining and expenses for things such as chemicals, electricity and pensions are going up.

Meanwhile, the city's 1,895 miles of sewer pipes, some of which are nearly 100 years old, need constant repair.

Only council member John Dingfelder voted against the increase. "I wasn't convinced that we've done enough belt tightening internally to justify a fee hike, especially during these tough times," he said after the meeting.

The plan to gradually increase rates means the average residential sewer charge will go up by about $4.90 a month this year and $12.90 by 2012. Average monthly utility bills would increase by about $7.53 this year when combined with a previously approved five-year plan for increasing water rates.

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