In yesterday’s city council meeting, city council members voted “yes” to increasing water, sewer, and garbage rates.
“This is based on two things. One, we’ve been running short. We’ve not been charging enough money to cover costs of the water-sewer fund. At this time, we’re looking at an agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency over our wastewater treatment plant and what we have to do to meet new federal standards,” said Ward 1 City Councilman Dr. George Thomas.
To meet the new federal standards, the city will have to revamp its water-system infrastructure.
“They’re asking an estimate right now, that we’ll have to spend over $100 million to make the improvements they want us to make. The question is how do we pay for that extra $100 million, which is about twice what the city budget is,” said Thomas.
Water and sewer rates will be increased by 10 percent and residential garbage fees will go up by $1.71, commercial garbage fees will go up by $2.83.
“It’s a significant amount for a lot of people, but to do what we must do to keep the system working where you have fresh clean water to drink, and you’re also able to flush that commode,” said Thomas.
The city plans to take a wholistic approach following the EPA’s standards in updating the city’s water infrastructure. That includes renovating the city’s water treatment plants and installing more water meters throughout the neighborhood.
“We went through a process a few years ago of replacing some of the meters, but we need to replace more of those meters to make sure they’re giving us accurate readings,” said Thomas.
The city also plans to replace old, underground pipes.