Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Leaders Downplaying Proposed Water Rate Hike; It Could Mean Customers Will See a Utility Bill Increase of 15 to 19 Percent Overall

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Leaders Downplaying Proposed Water Rate Hike; It Could Mean Customers Will See a Utility Bill Increase of 15 to 19 Percent Overall

Article excerpt

Byline: DREW DIXON

ATLANTIC BEACH - While some residents questioned water service rate increases that could double under a proposed ordinance, city leaders this week downplayed the impact the hikes would have on people's utility bills.

City Manager Jim Hanson said customers' bills would increase 19 percent at most and that the average increase would be about 15 percent. That's when factoring in the monthly base fees of $8.15 for water service and $17.06 for sewer service, in addition to the proposed rate-per-use increases.

A 15 or 19 percent overall utility bill increase sounds a lot better than the water per-use rate increase, which could reach 100 percent in some cases under the ordinance, Hanson said.

"There's some confusion," Hanson said Monday as the City Commission gave preliminary approval to the increases, with a final public hearing slated for Oct. 27.

Atlantic Beach's current water rates are 25 cents for each 1,000 gallons for customers who use less than 3,000 gallons a month, not including the base fees.

Customers would pay 60 cents per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons a month under the proposed ordinance, Hanson said. The rate goes up to $2.22 per 1,000 gallons over 3,000. The rates keep increasing to a maximum of $5.91 per 1,000 gallons over 18,000 gallons a month.

"For the big customer using a lot of irrigation water, they're going to be paying 10 times as much for that irrigation as someone who might be living by themselves who has no watering at all," Hanson said last month while discussing the ordinance.

On Monday, Hanson said those figures will be rare for most water users in Atlantic Beach.

"Most of our city customers are going to be using volumes of 3,000 to 4,000 gallons per month," Hanson said, adding that when the base fees are factored in, a lower percentage increase shows up on the bill. …

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