Friendswood needs to raise water rates to fund reinvestment, consultant says

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The city of Friendswood needs to raise water and wastewater rates dramatically over the next five years to pay for critical infrastructure improvements, according to a consultant’s report shared with City Council on Dec. 3.

The proposed rate increase schedule would mean the average single-family customer would pay $211.57 every two months by 2023, compared to $144.20 in 2018—a 46 percent increase.

“This is not typical. We have not had a rate increase in over a decade,” City Manager Morad Kabiri told Community Impact Newspaper. “However, the actual rate increase will not be as high as the report suggests.”

To meet obligations from its contracted water providers Houston, Pasadena and League City, Friendswood needs to invest $40 million in water infrastructure, which means it needs to take on debt and pay off with water fees.

“Just as an example we have to put in a 42-inch water line to connect to the city of Houston. … Our share alone is $12 million for that project,” Kabiri said.

The city can opt to take on debt in smaller chunks and borrow with longer terms, such as 30 years, which would reduce the annual debt burden and lower potential rate hikes.

On Dec. 3, the council also approved the sale of $20 million in bonds, payable over the next 20 years, to fund the initial set of projects that need to get underway first. Another $20 million will need to be borrowed in about two years, Kabiri said.

Kabiri said the rate discussion will return to City Council in January and could be up for a vote in February.

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Matt Dulin
Matt joined Community Impact Newspaper in January 2018. A graduate of the University of Houston, Matt was most recently the director of community outreach and engagement at the Columbia Missourian and a professor at the Missouri School of Journalism.
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