NewsChannel 11 has learned water bill rates will be going up nearly three times more than initially expected to cover water related debt.
Once you add an additional 30 percent to your expected 16 percent increase and we're looking at a potential 46 percent rate hike. This proposed increase by city staff comes as a shock to Lubbock City Council and our wallets. "It did come as a surprise to me. This is the first I've been told about that the previous model isn't generating enough revenue," says Mayor Tom Martin.
Martin says under the current rate plan the city is losing an estimated $5 to $7 million a year. "Because there hasn't been as much water sales as the original model anticipated," adds Martin.
Under the current model, the amount of water you consume is subject to the rate increase but because consumption is down, in part to conservation efforts and area rainfall, this means less money for the city. "For long term conservation it's really good, but it does mess up the rate models and the bottom line is you have to have the funds to service the debt that it takes to build the water system," says Mayor Martin.
Martin says the city needs to re-evaluate the way it charges citizens for water. "My guess is the base meter charge will increase because that's where the capitol costs should really be placed and not on the consumption of water," he adds.
City staff wanted council to approve the 46 percent increase but the council wants to work with the Water Advisory Committee to lower it. "Certainly we want to try to cushion the shock as much as we can but we've already issued a lot of bonds that we're now having to make payments on because of the Lake Alan Henry project and we can't stop the project," says Martin. It's a project with an estimated $240 million price tag.
"The bottom line is the choice between do you have water or not have water and I don't think there's any decision to be made," says Martin.
The additional increase is not final until Lubbock City Council approves it. Mayor Martin hopes the new rate will be in effect by April. We'll continue to follow this and let you know what to expect where your water bill is concerned.
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