Monday, June 16, 2014

Water Prices to Increase Again

After postponing discussion on a water rate increase on June 3rd San Angelo's City Council made it a strategic priority to raise water rates for most users.  Past increases include:

2007 - Average increase of $13.22 per month
2011 - Average increase of $14.75 per month
2014 - Average increase of ?
Consider this position in which citizens again find themselves:

Finance Director Michael Dane explained to council the risk factor involved in relying more on an increase to the usage rate to generate the necessary revenue. As residents cut back on water use, especially as water usage restrictions have tightened under the city's drought contingency plan, Dane said, sufficient revenue to pay for the debt service payment may not be generated, which would result in the city having to impose even higher rate increases.
Welcome to San Angelo's deja vu.  The goal of any 2014 increase is to get the city back on track water revenue wise.  Revenue in the last fiscal year came up millions short. 

Here's the cycle, which has repeated several times.  The City raises water rates.  Citizens respond by reducing water use, causing water revenue to come in under budget.  As the city views water as a major revenue source, even having it subsidize the general fund, rates must be raised again.

Yes San Angelo, you did what our leaders requested by conserving water.  Now most of you must pay.

Note:  Water bill increases don't include stormwater fees (which range from $3 to $5 for residential customers) added in 2010 or the Water Pumping fee.  It will be interesting to see if the pumping fee goes away, given no pumps remain at the North or South Pool of Twin Buttes.

Update 7-2-14:  Neither Council nor staff knew the recent history of water rate increases.  They thought the last rate increase was in 2008.  It's sad when a blogger has more accurate information for council than staff.

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