As we know, a water rate hike of about 12 percent was proposed by Mayor Parker earlier this month. That ran into some resistance from apartment dwellers, since the hike would be higher for multi-family residences than it would be for single-family homes. Now some members of City Council are pushing for a steeper increase that would even things out more.
Although the Parker administration on Monday presented a revised plan that kept single-family increases at about 12 percent, about half the council body expressed a desire to raise all rates to what it costs to provide the service.
Under that idea, the bill of an average single-family household using 6,000 gallons of water a month would go up, from about $47 to $60. That increase would put the cost of Houston’s water at a higher level than many other major U.S. cities, including Miami, Oakland, Dallas, San Antonio, Fort Worth and Los Angeles, according to a rate study commissioned by the city.
“We have to do this,” Councilwoman Sue Lovell said in a Monday committee meeting where the plan to raise residential rates beyond Parker’s proposal first surfaced. “What I’m concerned about is that everybody, across the board, pays and participates” in the rate increase.
The revised proposal also slightly decreased initial rate hikes for multi-family and commercial users and includes the creation of a $14 million fund to provide grants to owners of qualifying multi-family properties if they make investments that conserve water.
I’ve said before that the size of the increase should be more equitable for apartments, so I’m glad to see Council consider this option. No guarantee it will happen, but it deserves to be discussed. And I’ll say again, a more organized push for conservation, involving things like rebates and incentives, educational initiatives, and so forth, would also be a fine idea. I hope that will follow whatever action Council takes here.