AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rates for Austin water customers are already set to go up this coming fall due to a new budget, and now the utility is considering whether more rate increases are necessary.
The utility is concerned about worsening drought conditions in Central Texas. They say they’re also in a bind because numbers show customers are using less water.
“If we were to move into stage three and stage four, which are levels in our lakes that are much lower than we are right now, then we would have to enact stricter water restrictions,” said David Anders, assistant director of finance and business services for Austin Water. “That would result in significant revenue losses for the utility.”
An Austin Water joint committee had the fourth of a series of meetings Wednesday night to discuss the options for drought rates. Some customers at the meeting spoke up, saying the utility needs to tighten its budget, not increase rates.
“The drought and customer conservation efforts do not support the water utility’s request for a budget increase,” said Donna Howe. “During a drought, a well-run utility will have costs go down, not up.”
Once the series of meetings wrap up, any rate changes the committee comes up with would have to be approved by Austin’s City Council.
Austin water customers will already see a rate increase starting in November as part of the budget for the coming year. On average it will increase $4.84 a month.
In addition to an increase in your water rate, Austin taxpayers will face extra charges for a series of other services. Those include bumps in energy rates, waste fees, community fees, transportation fees, drainage fees and your property taxes. The total adds up to $13.38 a month for the average Austin homeowner.