ST. PETERSBURG — City Council is set Thursday to review a proposed utility rate increase and start discussing stormwater fee changes that could end up costing some residents even more money.
To start, all residents can expect their water and sanitation bills to increase by about $7 to $10 starting in October.
This is the second rate jump in 2018. Last year council last year approved a 25.5 percent increase in reclaimed water rates that went into effect Jan. 1. That was the first in a series of rate hikes that could double reclaimed water prices over five years.
The increase that council is set to review during Thursday's meeting would raise water and sanitation bills, on average, by another 7 percent.
Customers who use an average of 4,000 gallons a month, including reclaimed water, will see an increase of $9.78, according to a memo from Mayor Rick Kriseman's office to council members.
For those who don't have access to reclaimed water, rates will rise about $6.91 a month.
The reclaimed water rate hikes are part of ongoing utility bill increases that have drawn the ire of residents. It's all part of the state-mandated plan that requires St. Petersburg to spend $326 million to repair and upgrade the city's ailing sewage system, which discharged up to 1 billion gallons during the storms of 2015-16.
But that's not all. City staff will also present council members with a proposed change to stormwater rates that would start on April 1, 2019.
The change — which is separate from the utility increase — would move the city to a tiered-rate system based on the square footage of each property that is impervious to water, such as rooftops and asphalt. That would replace the current flate-rate system where each property owner pays the same set fee.
Public works spokesman Bill Logan said the proposed tiered-rate is designed to be more equitable. Those who have more square-footage on their property that water can't soak through will pay more. Those property owners with fewer impervious surfaces will pay less.
Some residents are already unhappy with the proposed changes. The city's posts to the NextDoor app alerting residents of the stormwater and utility changes on Thursday's agenda drew a flood of criticism. Many were outraged that the city could end up raising utility rates twice in the same year and, for some residents, changing stormwater rates could result in another increase.
Which homes would fall into which tiers? Logan said the city will soon explain that process.
"Right now, we're just getting out the initial word out of what's going on," Logan said. "There hasn't been any delineation of who's paying what. That comes next."
Compared with rates in other nearby cities, the proposed utility increase puts St. Petersburg on the higher end of the spectrum. Tampa, which hasn't raised rates since 2011, remains the lowest in the region.
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Thursday's council meeting will start at 8:30 a.m. This is the first public hearing on the utility rate increase. Council will vote on the proposed change at a public hearing on Aug. 23.
There will be other opportunities for the public to weigh in on the tiered stormwater system, Logan said, but those dates have not yet been set.
Contact Caitlin Johnston at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779. Follow @cljohnst.