Pflugerville considers raising water and wastewater utility rates

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City of Pflugerville residents could see an increase in their monthly water and wastewater bills pending a final vote from City Council.

Pflugerville City Council on Nov. 13 voted to advance an ordinance that will raise water and wastewater utility rates in the upcoming fiscal year.

The vote is on the first of two readings and the utility rate increases must be approved at Pflugerville City Council’s Nov. 27 meeting before they are officially adopted for the 2019 fiscal year. If approved, the rate increase would go into effect Dec. 1.

According to city officials and an independent analysis, the utility increases are aimed at managing upcoming debts incurred to improve Pflugerville’s wastewater treatment systems. The city of Pflugerville has $97 million dedicated to capital improvement projects scheduled to start over the next several years, per Pflugerville City Manager Sereniah Breland.

NewGen Strategies & Solutions, a management consulting firm, conducted a study of the city’s utility fund, including analysis and projections for customer growth, consumer demand, rate schedules and upcoming debts.

The group found that the city of Pflugerville’s wastewater utility balance will fall $3.7 million into debt by the year 2022 under its current utility rates.

“The under recovery is shocking, to say the least,” Pflugerville City Council member Rudy Metayer said at the Nov. 13 council meeting.

As a result, the consulting group recommended increases to both the water and wastewater utility rates, with an emphasis on raising wastewater rates.

“Based on the revenue requirement… the current wastewater rates are projected to under-recover the utility’s costs over the next four years,” NewGen Strategies & Solutions wrote in its report, published in October.

RATE CHANGES

The city of Pflugerville’s monthly wastewater fixed charges currently sit at $22.50. If council eventually passes these rates at a later meeting, that rate would go up by one dollar in the upcoming fiscal year.

Both residential and nonresidential properties currently pay $1.55 per 1,000 gallons. The ordinance discussed at city council tonight proposes raising those rates to $2.20.

For a usage of 3,000 gallons a month, this represents a 10.9 percent increase in monthly utility bills from 2018 to 2019.

Monthly retail water rates are not scheduled to increase as much as the wastewater rate.

The rate increases vary from as little as 20 cents for a 5/8 inch water meter to $20 for an 8-inch water meter. No changes in volumetric rate for water utilities are proposed.

For 3,000 gallons a month, this represents a 0.8 percent increase in monthly utility bills.

Breland told council that the average Pflugerville household uses 7,000 gallons of water every month. Per the city manager, a typical Pflugerville utility customer will see a 6.1 percent increase in their monthly utility bill.

The NewGen Strategies & Solutions recommended increasing wastewater rates until the year 2022, but Breland asked council to approve utility rate increases just for FY 2019. Breland cited utility master plan and utility impact fee studies currently underway by the city as reasons to withhold raising utility rate fees beyond FY 2019.

During discussion of the ordinace, Metayer suggested amending some existing agreements with the municipal utility districts surrounding the city, but did not further elaborate.

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Iain Oldman
Iain Oldman joined Community Impact Newspaper after spending two years in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he covered Pittsburgh City Council. He additionally worked with an investigative news organization where he reported on environmental topics and was a featured writer for Epicast Network, a Pittsburgh podcast company. Iain has now transitioned full-time into covering Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto.
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