Drought Watch: Water Rate Increases

Drought Watch: Water Rate Increases

Wichita Falls water customers will notice an increase in their water bill. The city is looking to increase water rates by just over 50%, but that does not mean your water bill will double.

"So what people see on the city utility bill might be on average about  a 20% increase. If you've been spending about $60 a month there is about a 20% increase there," said Jim Dockery, Wichita Falls Assistant City Manager.

Wichita water users are saving more than they ever have before. Water usage is down forty percent. Wichita Falls water customers are using three billion gallons less water today than they have in previous years.

In previous years the revenues in the water and sewage fund gained from water users helped pay for basic maintenance and water projects.

"Unfortunately, the fact that we're selling less water in that fund. We're not in a financial position to take on some of these projects that we've recently wanted to take on to extend the water supply," said Dockery.

Wichita Falls has $14 million dollars worth of debt to pay off for various projects. The city needs to pay off $1.4 million dollars worth of debt annually. When Wichita Falls borrowed the money, it's payment plan was set up to include language mandating the city raise rates to pay for basic maintenance and the annual debt.

"We have $14 million dollars of annual debt service, that does not go away if we sell less water. We've got labor cost to operate plants to replace the water mains, that does not go away when we sell less water," said Dockery.

The city could vote on raising the rates at the next city council meeting on August 5th. If the rates are raised customers would not notice the increase until their September bill.

Jack Carney, Newschannel6