Mayor Annise Parker’s administration is proposing drastic water and sewer rate increases to shore up Houston’s Combined Utility System, which has operated with multimillion-dollar budget deficits for several years.
The estimated rate hike under the proposal, presented to City Council on Tuesday, would be about 12.5 percent for residential water users, increasing from about $47 a month for the average household use of 6,000 gallons of water to about $53.
Those who live in apartments would face a far higher increase, in many cases greater than 50 percent, although that aspect of the proposal could change in the coming weeks, city officials said. Across all classes of ratepayers, including multifamily and commercial users, the proposed increase comes to about 25 percent.
That earlier story said the increase was to be 14 percent, which “would equate to about a $3-a-month increase for the average residential water user”. This story talks about what it would mean for households at the 6000 gallon per month and 10,000 gallon per month levels; the latter would go from $74.39 to $90.34, an increase of $15.95. That’s a 21% addition, so it seems this is not a flat rate hike. The good news is that it means that if you use less than 6000 gallons per month, your increase will be smaller.
It’s not clear why the rate of increase is higher for apartments – the sidebar example shows a multifamily dwelling that had been paying $72.97 now paying $104.91. That’s something that ought to be reviewed to ensure fairness, and I’m glad to see that the Department of Public Works and Engineering has agreed to make revisions based on concerns raised by Council. And while it looks like this means the city is going to more of a tiered rate structure, I don’t see any mention of conservation measures, which I hope are in the works as well. We’ll see what this looks like when it comes back to Council for a vote.