Councilman proposes water rate overhaul - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Councilman proposes water rate overhaul


UPDATE 8-22: Klein proposed the creation of a Lubbock Water Advisory Commission at Thursday night's council meeting, but it failed due to lack of a second.

A Lubbock City Councilman says he has a plan to simplify your water bill.

Councilman Todd Klein is proposing a rate structure overhaul that would separate residential and commercial billing and do away with rates based on Average Winter Consumption.

Klein believes the current water rate structure is confusing and unfair to residential customers.

Klein's proposal would give the Lubbock Water Advisory Committee the responsibility of changing the current rate structure.

The first step is to separate residential and commercial billing. Klein says under the current system, residential customers are subsidizing their commercial counterparts.

He also wants to do away with the Average Winter Consumption or AWC, which bases your rate throughout the year on how much your home uses in the winter months.

He wants to replace it with a model that would keep customers paying a lower rate until a home exceeds a set number of gallons based on a residential average for the whole city. Klein believes this model would be more fair to the citizens.

"AWC is very confusing and it's hard to read your own bill, much less what your neighbor is paying. So it universalizes a standard for what block one would look like," Klein said.

Klein's proposal would not affect the budget the council is currently working. Residents would not see the impact right away. Klein hopes to get the ball rolling now for the next budget year.

Klein explained the details of his proposal in a press release on Wednesday:

As this council has made strides in transparency and equity in terms of storm water fees related to usage and impact costs, we must now do the same for (drinking) water. The current rate model for water lacks transparency, equity and structural integrity. Unlike standard practices, the current water rate model has a single rate for both commercial and residential.

Water also, unlike other city utilities, does not have a fixed baseline charge. Instead the charge to the public is based on average winter consumption (AWC), which disadvantages lower-end users and water conservation. The current billing for water, because of AWC, is both arbitrary and capricious, and the citizens of Lubbock deserve better. I am asking the City Council to have the Lubbock Water Advisory Commission (LWAC) review this needed reform and make a recommendation to Council.

I am specifically asking that LWAC review the following:

1) A separation of Residential and Commercial rates

2) An elimination of Average Winter Consumption (AWC)

3) Creation of a revenue neutral rate model for Residential and Commercial Bloc 1

Beyond that, we also need to look at where there can be other similar recommendations for transparency, equity, and integrity in billing and in our rate models.

KCBD will continue to provide updates on this issue as the council takes it up at Thursday's meeting.

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