Vero Beach Proposes 15% Water and Sewer Rate Hike to Pay for New Treatment Plant
Vero Beach - Friday September 16, 2022: The City of Vero Beach has proposed a 15% hike in water and sewer rates to cover the costs of a new treatment plant. If approved, the rate increase would take effect on January 1 of next year.
Under the proposal the monthly water and sewer bills for the average customer would rise $7 to $12, an increase from about $50 now to roughly $58 next year.
The cost of replacing the old waste-water treatment plant with a new one is expected to be in the neighborhood of $50-million. "It’s going to entail some borrowing and then construction costs and increased operating costs," said City Manager Monte Falls, "and to pay for that the rates will have to cover all those expenses.”
A city ordinance needs to be passed approving the increase, and a notice of public hearing then has to go out too all rate payers in their monthly bills. That process has just begun says Cynthia Lawson, the Director of the Vero Beach Finance Department. "Council has given us direction to prepare that ordnance for a first reading and then we would have to hold that public hearing prior to these new rates going into effect. The rest of that will take about three months.”
“The first reading of the rate ordinance is scheduled for October the 18," added Falls. "Adoption of the ordinance, of the council voted it in, would be December 6th, with the effective date of the rate would be January the first.”
If approved it would only be the first of three more rate hikes through October 2025 which could raise the average water and sewer bill to about $83 a month.
"We have had increased operating expenses in recent years including on electricity, and chemicals, and labor, " said Lawson. "On top of all of that the city has not had a rate increase since 2010.