Proposed water rate hike set for City Council hearing - East Valley Tribune: Ahwatukee Foothills

Proposed water rate hike set for City Council hearing

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Posted: Saturday, December 25, 2010 11:00 am | Updated: 3:32 pm, Thu Oct 18, 2012.

A Phoenix City Council meeting on raising the city's fee for water service by 7 percent has been scheduled for Jan. 19.

If approved, the new rate - which is expected to add an additional $2.21 each month to the typical single-family residential customer's bill of $56.25 - would take effect in March.

Victoria Welch, a Water Services Department spokeswoman, said the proposed rates are subject to alteration.

"There's always a possibility it could change when it goes to public hearing," she said.

The hearing is scheduled for 3 p.m. in City Council Chambers, at 200 W. Jefferson St. in downtown Phoenix.

The ongoing rate hikes are needed for such things as repaying the cost of a $200 million upgrade at water treatment plants to comply with the federal Safe Drinking Water Act of 2012, covering $15 million a year in expenses to operate a mandated enhanced filtration system, building a water storage reservoir for fire protection and improved water pressure, and replacing 80-year-old water lines and rehabilitating substandard sewer lines, according to a water department report.

This rate increase is expected to produce $22.9 million additional revenues in the first full year, according to department officials.

Next year's proposed 7 percent water rate increase is smaller than last year's 9 percent increase, officials have said. And wastewater rates, which went up 4.5 percent last year, are not expected to rise this year.

Opponents of the increase, such as City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, whose district includes Ahwatukee Foothills, have called the increase "excessive," saying rising water rates hurt the elderly on fixed incomes and the poor, and could hurt local businesses, golf courses and homeowners' associations by forcing them to cut back on usage.

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