As a result, residents can expect to see higher water and sewer bills through at least 2024, according to the ordinance. The new rates will take effect Jan. 1.
Budget and Finance Chair Bob Mendes said state officials would have ordered the city to implement the new rates if they were not approved by the Metro Council.
“[The Metro Council] either approves these rates or the state orders us to do it,” Mendes said at the meeting.
According to Metro Water Services, which provides public water, sewer and stormwater services to more than 250,000 customers, departmental costs have risen 30% over the last decade. Prior to three years of consecutive rate increases from 2009-11, the city last approved a water rate increase in 1995.
That lack of rate increases as well as the costly upkeep of the city’s aging water and sewer systems has led to a backlog of 60 projects in need of funding, according to the department.
A cost-of-service study released Oct. 15 by Raftelis, a public utility consulting firm, recommended MWS institute a “significant rate adjustment” beginning in January, to be followed by a 4% increase in 2021 and by 3% increases in 2022, 2023 and 2024. The majority of customers will see an increase of $9 per month or less, according to MWS.
The increases, which had the support of Mayor John Cooper, will be reflected in February bills, according to MWS.
“We didn’t get into this situation overnight, but continued underinvestment can’t be our future,” Cooper said at the Oct. 15 Metro Nashville Council meeting. “This is a hard but important step [toward] improving our neighborhood infrastructure.”