Residents who use the city of Leander’s water and wastewater but live outside city limits may experience a rate increase next year.
City Council is currently considering an ordinance to increase rates for these customers, who live in surrounding extraterritorial jurisdictions, by 10 percent. Customers inside and outside Leander city limits currently pay the same rates and fees for water and wastewater services.
The potential increase comes as the number of customers outside city limits grows. There are currently 134 active accounts for customers outside of the city, according to Mike Neu, Leander’s public information officer. An estimated 2,662 future accounts outside the city are expected as the Lively and Rancho Sienna neighborhoods, which are located in the ETJ northeast of Leander, continue to develop in the coming years, according to Neu.
During a Nov. 15 public hearing on the ordinance, ETJ resident Carol Mize said she received a letter about the potential increase.
“I think a 10 percent increase is excessive,” Mize said. “I don’t see where the data is provided that it costs the city 10 percent more.”
Robert Langer, another affected resident, said the increase is arbitrary.
“My water lines were paid for by the developers,” Langer said. “The city did not have to pay a dime for them. The city has annexed within a thousand feet of me. My water comes from the same line theirs comes from. Where does the cost factor come from? Is this increase going to improve my water service? Can’t say it will.”
After the public hearing, Finance Director Robert Powers said the city does not make a profit on the water and sewage system. Rates are based on cost of service. He said the citizens of Leander are the owners of the utility system and as the owners, they are entitled to a return on their investment.
“Citizens of Leander have invested greatly over the years to build up our water supply system and prepare for the future,” Powers said.
Powers said there is not currently a cost study that proves the 10 percent increase is necessary because there are too few outside-of-city customers to complete an accurate cost analysis at this time. Powers said it is not uncommon for other cities, such as Georgetown, to employ a similar rate difference.
Council member Shanan Shepherd said she would like to hear more thoughts on the rate change before making a decision.
“I would like to have more input on this one,” Shepherd said. “I think this would be good for a work session that would be open to the public.”
City Council voted unanimously after the hearing to take no action on the ordinance. Mayor Troy Hill and council member Christine Sederquist were absent. A future date has not yet been set to reconsider the item.