Friendswood City Council gave preliminary approval to increase to water and sewer rates and weighed the possibility of a bond election in November at its Jan. 14 meeting.
The water rate increase is slated to help pay for infrastructure updates that the city needs, officials said.
“These aren’t projects that are luxury items,” City Manager Morad Kabiri said. “These are projects that we’re contractually obligated with partners in our various regional facilities to tackle. These are projects that we need so we can ensure clean delivery of water to each and every home in the city of Friendswood as well as the removal of wastewater from these homes as well.”
The city has lessened the financial burden of these projects by cutting the total dollar amount from $39 million to $32.5 million, which was partially achieved by cutting automated water meters from the project list. The city also spaced the project construction out over seven years rather than five. These changes cut the proposed average bill from $212 to $175, which is charged every two months. That would equate to a 21 percent increase on the average bill.
The council also gave initial approval to the amendments to land use assumptions, capital improvement plan and impact fees, which are charged to developments to offset infrastructure costs.
The impact fee, paid by developers, would increase to $4,227 from $2,928, a 44 percent increase. The fees would help pay for up to 50 percent of new projects over the next 10 years. Council can choose to charge less than $4,227, however.
The council also discussed the possibility of a November bond election to address drainage and other needs.
Council Member John Scott said this is unfortunate timing for a bond, as the council could also be increasing the city’s water and sewer rates in the coming months. However, this bond is necessary to pay for drainage improvements, he said.
“I think the timing is as bad as it can be because of the fact that we going to have to issue the water/sewer debt,” Scott said. “I think there would be 100 percent buy-in throughout the community that drainage improvements need to be tackled. Whatever that cost, we need to make sure we have the money to do that.”
The bond’s items are largely reliant on a citizen advisory group, which has yet to be formed. The group would make recommendations on what the bond should include. Streets, parks, finance and drainage could all be a part of the bond.
A final vote on water rates and impact fees will be at the February council meeting.