LUBBOCK TX, (KCBD) - Anyone who uses water in Lubbock, your rates are going up. The Water Commission says the city needs the money to complete the Lake Alan Henry project. Thursday the Lubbock City Council approved the rate increase on first reading. Originally, the Water Commission proposed a 16% increase this fiscal year and another 16% next fiscal year. Instead you'll see a 42% increase this year. That's 26% more than expected, but there will be no increase next fiscal year.
The City Council approved the plan, but every council member spoke up to voice their disapproval of the surprisingly high rate hike. "I would say let's do the 16% rate increase and instruct staff to go back and find the difference," said Councilman John Leonard. For more than an hour the council voiced their concern over the water rate hike that will hit Lubbock residents on April 1st.
No one wanted it, but because of disappearing water sources, they say there is no choice. "We need the water. We need the infrastructure. It just should have been planned years and years ago instead of doing it all in an emergency state as we find ourselves in right now," said Councilwoman Linda DeLeon.
In a 5 to 2 vote the council approved a rate increase for water and storm water that will cost the average customer about $20 more a month. Only DeLeon and Leonard voted against the increase. One big concern is the rate increase comes mostly in the base rate that every customer pays no matter how much water they use. Lower income and elderly customers will be hit hardest. "It's disproportionate. We're putting too much of a burden of this on our lower volume users," said Leonard.
However, to secure a water source for Lubbock's future, the council says it's something they must do. "We gotta have the water, and every body's gotta pay for it," said Mayor Tom Martin.
While water rates go up, Lubbock Power and Light customers can take some comfort in the fact their electricity bills will go down. Thursday, council also approved a higher base rate for LP&L. However, fuel surcharges will go down. This change will save the average customer who uses 1,000 kilowatts about $16 on their monthly bill. For the next three months customers should see about a 17% decrease. Starting in June, your bill will go up a little, but will still be about 12% less than you pay now. When you combine the water bill with the money LP&L customers will save on their electric bill, the city estimates the average customer will spend about $4 more a month.
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