Tampa water rates to double in five years

08/09/07 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

The Tampa City Council approved a measure today that will double the amount that citizens pay for water within the next five years.

The Council also approved a motion to begin reducing the price of reclaimed water. The rate increases appear to be relatively incremental; a customer defined as a middle user will see their rate go from $11 to $12.62 in the first year.

Although the city of Tampa pays much lower rates for water than virtually any other local government in the bay area, City Councilman John Dingfelder says that’s no reason to raise them.

Among the reasons for the increase is the cost of electricity and chemicals, as well as replacing old pipes.

The city has also being paying the debt service on STAR 1, the reclaimed water program, and needs money for the plan to begin bringing the next phase, STAR II, to other parts of Tampa.

Before she presented her budget, Mayor Pam Iorio used her rare presentation before the City Council to lobby for the increase over five years.

Part of the increase will also help implement an expansion of the STAR II program, which allows residents to use reclaimed water for irrigation.

The project has had its problems in the South Tampa area. It’s also estimated to cost anywhere between $600 and $2,000 to have a plumber help install the system.

City Councilman John Dingfelder proposed creating a grant or rebate program to compel city residents to use the system. He said if that wasn’t sufficient, maybe something bolder was in order.

Citizen Spencer Kass said he was completely opposed to the five-year tax increase.

Councilman Charlie Miranda said it’s always difficult to raise rates, but it’s a form of leadership.

The City council also voted to get quarterly reports on the STAR expansion.

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