Customers to see different rate hikes as new utility prices OK'd

By Matt Ward —

City utility customers will see an increase within the next few months as the Fredericksburg City Council approved rate hikes for water, sewer and electric customers during their regular council meeting Monday.

Final approval for the utility rates was needed as the council finished and okayed their 2013-2014 budget.

(A separate story in this issue details discussion of the upcoming city budget and tax rate.)

Increases vary by customer

With the approved increases in rates in addition to changes in the way rates are structured, all utility customers will be affected in some way with no two customers impacted the same way, according to city staff.

While the overall increases include 11 percent to water rates, 15.4 percent to waste water rates and four percent to electric rates, City Finance Director Brad Kott said the percentages did not accurately reflect how each customer’s bill would be affected.

“Based on their situation and their usage, everybody is going to have a different percentage increase from their neighbor,” Kott said. “We’re going to have to do a lot of education with this and I’m going to have to educate my staff just to be able to answer questions. We’re going to have to encourage people to go to the website or come in and talk to us. This is not like we used to do it.”

For residential customers, a higher second price tier will go into effect earlier with the intent of promoting water conservation.

“We are trying to encourage those people who are very common users to watch their outside irrigation,” Kott said. “We’re going to start encouraging conservation to more customers now (through the new rate structure). It’s not going to be just the 20 percent who use a whole lot (of water). We’re going to try and start and get their attention at a lower tier.”

Currently, customers pay $1.75 per 1,000 gallons up to 10,000 gallons with the second price tier at $3 for usage between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons. Under the new plan, customers will pay $1.94 per 1,000 gallons up to 6,000 gallons with the second price tier at $3.11 for usage between 6,000 and 12,000 gallons. 

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