Mayor wants to raise Tampa's sewer rates
June 19, 2009
City residents might have to dig deeper into their pockets to pay for sewer service later this year.
Mayor Pam Iorio wants to increase sewer rates by nearly 34.5 percent over the next three years to cover rising costs and revenue declines in the wastewater department.
Bonnie Wise, the city's finance director, told city council members Thursday that increased expenses and rising debt from outstanding bonds means that the wastewater department would not be able to meet its operating expenses within the next two years.
"This is a horrible time to be presenting a rate increase, we know that," Wise said.
To cover the shortfall, the Iorio administration wants to increase rates by 14.5 percent through 2010; 12 percent in 2011 and 8 percent in 2012. The proposal also would increase a surcharge on customers outside city limits from 18 percent to 25 percent.
Figures provided by the city indicate the average customer pays roughly $33.60 a month. After three years, that bill would be about $45.
"We're not happy about this at all," said Ralph Metcalf, director of the city's wastewater department. "But without these rate increases, we will run out of money in 2011."
Tampa's wastewater rates, which are still considered among some of the lowest in the Bay area, were last increased in 2006 by 5 percent and 15 percent in 2004.
Council members could hold a vote on the proposed increases in late-August, following two public hearings. The rate increases would have to be included in the 2010 budget.
"This is a tough pill to swallow," Councilman John Dingfelder said. "It's a huge increase."
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