ST. PETERSBURG — In the face of widespread protest, the City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a series of utility rate increases.
Council members also okayed a proposal to form stormwater rate tiers, meaning homeowners will now be charged based on how much impervious surface area is on their property. Impervious surface area contributes to stormwater runoff.
Council chambers were nearly full of people Thursday night who voiced their concerns over the rate increases. Council members lamented the need for more revenue before all voting to raise rates.
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Starting next month, potable water will increase by 3.25 percent, wastewater by 8 percent, reclaimed water by 6.1 percent and sanitation by 5.25 percent.
The news wasn’t all bad. Because of the stormwater rate structure that council members passed, city officials estimate about two-thirds of homeowners will actually see the stormwater portion of their water bill decrease. That’s because all homeowners currently pay an $11 flat rate per month. The new rate structure will charge based on tiers.
Homeowners in the first tier, with impervious surface area on their lots less than 1,600 square feet will pay $4.99 per month in stormwater fees. The second tier, between 1,601 and 3,200 square feet, will pay $9.93 monthly. The third tier, between 3,201 and 4,800 square feet, will pay $15.59 per month. And the fourth tier, above 4,800 square feet, will pay $23.27 per month.