Only moderate rate adjustments are required because of the overall financial health of the city’s utilities, projected population growth, prudent management of revenues and expenses, and other factors, said Dan Jackson, the vice president of consulting firm Willdan Financials.
The League City City Council on Nov. 19 heard proposals from Jackson about possible ways to raise water and wastewater rates based on the city’s needs. The city hired Willdan about four months ago to do a rate study for League City, Jackson said.
League City charges residents a base rate of $7.13 per month plus a rate based on how much water they use. The first 3,000 gallons cost $1.50 per 1,000 gallons, and the rates rise from there. Those who use 25,000 gallons or more per month are charged a rate of $8.50 per 1,000 gallons, Jackson said.
For wastewater, residents are charged a base rate of $13.88. The rate per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons is $1.80, and the cost is $4.62 per 1,000 gallons for using more than 3,000 gallons per month, Jackson said.
A resident who uses 10,000 gallons a month is charged $101.75, which is just above the state average of $99.86. For Houston, the charge is $134.32, and in Sugar Land, it is less than $60, but League City’s water rates fall in the middle of comparable cities, Jackson said.
“Your rates are certainly not out of proportion,” he said.
League City has 34,836 water users and 33,386 wastewater users. It is expected 800 to 900 new users will be added annually as the city grows, resulting in a total of 42,564 by 2029. League City is projected to sell 3.6 billion gallons of water this year and 4.4 billion gallons by 2029, Jackson said.
After investigating League City’s water rates, its projected growth, its needs and other factors, Willdan proposed increasing the water base charge from $7.13 per month to $8.34 by October 2023. The amount paid per gallon would also increase from $1.50 to $2.50 per 1,000 gallons for the first 3,000 gallons and from $8.50 to $9.95 per 1,000 gallons for using 25,000 gallons or more. Wastewater base rates would jump from $13.88 to $15.32, and the charges per 1,000 gallons would increase similarly, Jackson said.
Jackson proposed an alternative scenario that would charge residents more based on the size of their water meters. Those with 3/4-inch meters would be charged a base rate of $8.11, but a user of a 6-inch meter would be charged a base rate of $270.06. This would help put the cost on those who burden the water system most, Jackson said.
A final idea would be to change wastewater charges based on the average amount used during the winter, when residents typically use less water. It is a system that is hard to understand and not as effective in cities with warm weather, Jackson said.
City staff and council members will consider water rates at a future meeting at an unspecified date.