Proposed budget would raise utility costs for taxpayers

Homeowners in Austin would see an increase in utilities under the proposed budget.
Homeowners in Austin would see an increase in utilities under the proposed budget.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Austin city leaders are planning for next year, and the budget will have a big impact on your wallet.

“Oh sure, yes, I’m paying too much,” says Jeffrey Archer, a longtime Austin resident. She and other Austin taxpayers say they need some relief. “My electricity, water service, waste water service.”

While these aren’t new fees, the numbers on our bills continue to climb.

“I am on a fixed income, that’s why every dollar counts,” said Archer. “My income does not go up but your utilities go up.”

The city says it’s doing its best to keep the budget affordable. Officials proposing a lower tax rate, as well as cutting nearly $30 million from Austin Water’s budget.

However, “typical” homeowners are looking at a $12 increase to their utility bills.

“I’m still very concerned about both the water utility and Austin Energy,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “To make sure that we’re doing every last thing we can do to contain any possible rate increases there, and at the same time maintain the fiscal integrity of those departments, because we’re dependent on that integrity for our bond ratings, which also affects rates in the long run.”

City officials say water rates are going up about $2.60, largely to make up for a drop in usage by customers.

Energy costs are increasing by about $4.67, due to a rising Regulatory Charge and Power Supply Adjustment.

“We promised we would control cost and we have to do every possible thing we can to do that,” said Leffingwell.

“The citizens of Austin, are presently being gauged by the utilities, for every penny,” says Archer. “And if there’s any way we can hold this cost down, it would be very much appreciated.”

Archer hopes she’ll see the day when the numbers on her utility bills start to go the opposite direction.

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