Water rates are going up
June 22, 2010
Tampa Bay area residents will pay more for water starting in October, though not as much as the region's water supplier initially proposed.
Under the budget approved by the Tampa Bay Water board Monday, a household using 8,000 gallons a month would see their water bill go up $1.05 a month, or $12.60 a year.
The increase would be higher for residents who use more than the 8,000 gallons a month that the utility considers an average household use when the new rates kick in Oct. 1.
People face higher water bills because Tampa Bay Water isn't selling enough water to meet expenses.
Tampa Bay Water provides wholesale water to public utilities serving Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties and the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg and New Port Richey. If Tampa Bay Water's wholesale price rises, the utilities pass the increase on to residents.
The increase approved Monday by a 6-2 vote is less than the regional water supplier had proposed in April when the board told the staff to cut the budget.
Hillsborough's representatives on the board, county Commissioners Al Higginbotham and Mark Sharpe, voted against the budget. New Port Richey Mayor Scott McPherson was absent.
The increase proposed in April would have tacked $1.52 a month to a household using 8,000 gallons monthly, or $18.24 a year.
Tampa Bay Water's primary income comes from wholesale water sales. Income falls as water use drops but the fixed costs the supplier faces, such as bond payments, power and chemicals, are not going down.
The supplier is selling less water because of a combination of factors: Growth has slowed, near-normal rainfall has cut water consumption and people appear to be heeding years of governments trumpeting the need to conserve.
The supplier's budget is $160 million, $16 million less than the current spending plan. The utility staff's final budget is $3 million less than the budget proposed in April.
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