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County water-sewer rate increase expected to take effect this week

STORY BY LISA ZAHNER (Week of November 11, 2021)

A slight increase in water-sewer rates for customers on the north barrier island seemed set for approval at this past Tuesday’s County Commission meeting.

The staff recommended increase in the commissioners’ agenda packet was 3 percent, which the staff noted is less than “the pertinent Consumer Price Index of 4.2 percent.”

According to the current and proposed rates on a comparison chart prepared by county staff, the impact on the utility bill of the average single-family household of two people using 6,000 gallons of water per month would be about $1.80 monthly, or $21.60 per year. Certain fees not routinely paid by an existing utility customer are also increasing 3 percent, but for accounting simplicity, the staff recommended keeping the security deposit amount $50.

The rate increase, which was based upon a rate study performed by Raftelis utility consultants, was already budgeted into the anticipated revenues of Indian River County Utilities. If approved, the new rate was to take effect immediately on Tuesday (Nov. 9) and apply to water and sewer service used in October.

“Since the bills produced in October will reflect usage for both September and October, staff recommends the effective date for the rate increase to be immediate so that the first bills mailed in November will create the new rates. This proposal allows for all usage prior to the new fiscal year to be billed at the current rates,” the staff report by Interim Utilities Director Matthew Jordan said.

“Bills dated in November, and thereafter, will reflect usage that is entirely in the new fiscal year. Thus, it seems logical to enact the rate change at that time,” Jordan reported to commissioners.