Major city projects responsible for utility rate increases - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

3/4/10

Major city projects responsible for utility rate increases

By Tiffany Pelt - email

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Over the next five years Lubbock residents will see significant utility rate increases on four different fees including garbage collection and water bills.

The City of Lubbock's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) will total a billion dollars through 2015. That's $200,000 more than in 2009. Projects under the CIP are causing the rates to go up, and it's not sitting well with many residents. "I think they've increased everything enough especially during this recession we're in right now anyway; So I don't think the rates should be going up at all," said concerned taxpayer Rick Anderson.

Next year the monthly water utility base rate could spike from $18 to more than $28 dollars. This increase is to offset the cost of the $250 million Lake Alan Henry pipeline project.

"Well we need the water, we need the water," said Laura Robertson. She understands Lubbock needs to increase rates to secure additional water resources for the city, but Robertson says she'll struggle to pay the increased fees. "It's hard for me to make payments because I'm retired and a widow, and if it just keeps going up and up, you know, it takes all you got to pay bills," said Robertson.

Storm water fees just increased this year from $6 to $9 for residents. Now over the next five years that fee will again increase gradually to almost $20. For businesses the storm water fee doubles to $130. These increases help to pay for nine million in street maintenance each year because the streets double as Lubbock's drainage system. The increases will also help pay for the future North West Drainage project costing around $65 million. Construction for that project is expected to begin in the next few years.

Waste water fees will slightly increase as well. Residents will notice a ten percent increase in volume charges on their bills in two years. The hike in those fees will go toward updated waste water facilities and water treatment projects.

Solid waste fees will increase two dollars a month over the next two years. That means by 2012 it'll cost four more dollars for garbage collection. 

Many factors help determine how much rates are raised. For example changes in project construction estimates could be less than expected. That could decrease the amount that the city would raise the utility fee. Lubbock City Council also has to review the increases and vote to approve them before they are finalized.

For some, whether it's a $10 or a fifty-cent increase - it's just too much. "Everything is high enough as it is and people like my mother, she is on a fixed income and she can't afford any more as it is," said Anderson. Robertson will have the same problem, "you do what you can, you just get by anyway you can." 

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