Jersey Village residents can expect an increase in their utility bill by November as a result of changes to the utility fund approved by City Council earlier this year. Contractors with Red Oak Consultants began developing a long-term financial model for the city's water and wastewater utilities late last year to ensure Jersey Village maintains adequate funding.
The City of Jersey Village provides water and wastewater services to about 2,300 customers. The projected cost to the city for operating expenses in 2013 for water and wastewater services for residential, commercial and municipal customers is estimated to be about $2.5 million and $1.4 million, respectively, according to the study by Red Oak Consulting.
Costs are expected to increase by 3 percent annually between 2012 and 2016, according to the study. Since the number of accounts is expected to rise by 0.5 percent annually, Red Oak determined a 6 percent annual increase for the city's water revenues and a 1.9 percent annual increase for its wastewater revenues would need to collected from property owners during this study period, said Danny Segundo, public works director.
The rate increase will allow the city to keep up with the utility infrastructure and a rising consumer price index as part of the utility fund, Segundo said. The specific amount of the increase is difficult to speculate as bills reflect the amount of water and wastewater used by individual residents, he said.
The approved plan, which covers the next five years, calls for the completion of a secondary connection line to the City of Houston, water plant upgrades located in the Village and Seattle Street, backup generators for certain facilities and a continuation of the sewer rehabilitation program, which began in the early 2000s.
Monthly utility bills are the only source of water and wastewater funding, as utilities for the City of Jersey Village are not paid through property taxes. However, utility fund obligations may include maintenance and replacement of water lines, improvement of plant operations and the purchase of surface water. It is also necessary to provide reserves for prolonged natural disasters, according to the study by Red Oak Consultants.
"We've made significant improvements to the system [during] street improvements, which includes upgrades to the water systems [and] the replacement of water lines," said Mike Castro, city manager.
Customers should see the new rates during the November billing cycles, Segundo said. Some of these changes may be reflected on the Sept. 25 billing cycle, according to the ordinance passed by City Council.
Other aspects of the new rate structure include:
Reduction of current water rate structure from seven billing blocks to five
Adjustment of the rate schedule
Service charges for municipal customers
Basic service fee for customers with a second meter