Gulf Breeze plans to raise water and sewer rates

coffeeThey won’t be asking Escambia County and the City of Pensacola to chip in either

From GB Daily News:

City considers raise in water, sewer fees

BY BRADLEY “B.J.” DAVIS, JR. Gulf Breeze News

The City of Gulf Breeze and South Santa Rosa Utility Services (SSRUS) are planning to hold a public hearing on an increase in water and sewer rates Monday, Dec. 18 at City Hall.

At the meeting, customers of SSRUS will hear a report from utility and city officials justifying a raise in monthly rates to help compensate for operational and maintenance shortfalls resulting from rising utility expenses. Utility officials say they’re not alone.

“I imagine most of the utility customers are set on rate increase, and they’re all probably close to making some changes,” said Gulf Breeze Director of Public Works Vernon Prather.

Currently, the base rate, or minimum bill, is $7 for water and $7.32 for sewer. The rate per 1,000 gallons of water is $2.19 and is $3.06 for sewer. These amounts are below comparable median rates from over 40 area water and sewer utilities.

“We’re comparatively priced,” said Prather. Neighboring ECUA charges $1.50 per 1,000 gallons but charges $4.56 per 1,000 gallons of sewer usage.

Prather says that a number of factors contribute to the increase. One of which is rising fuel costs that have put a noticeable dent in many municipality wallets.

“Everybody knows what the cost of fuel has done,” he said. Other factors include rising costs in personnel, a future additional wastewater treatment facility and simple day-to-day expenditures.

“We’re a consumer like everybody else. But we buy fire hydrants, we buy pipes, we buy valves and all of those cost us more, too,” said Prather. Our operational expenses are exceeding operational revenue.”

Prather said the decision to increase rates is not something new.

“I don’t want anyone to think this is a knee-jerk reaction. This is something that we have looked and discussed for a period of time and we finally decided finally decided we needed to do it,” he said.

The public hearing to discuss SSRUS water and sewer rate increases is schedule for the Gulf Breeze City Council Regular Meeting, Monday, Nov. 18 at 6:30 at City Hall, 1070 Shoreline Drive.