Under the proposed budget, retail customers will pay 13 percent more for water, and cities will pay 8 percent more. Sewer rates will also increase.
By MICHAEL SANDLER
Published July 15, 2003
CLEARWATER - Many Pinellas County residents can expect higher water and sewer bills by winter.
County Administrator Steve Spratt included both rate increases in his proposed budget for next year.
Though the budget awaits approval, county commissioners already signed off on the rate increases last year.
That means come October, Pinellas County Utilities will raise retail water rates 13 percent, from $2.54 per 1,000 gallons to $2.87 per 1,000.
For the average homeowner who uses about 6,000 gallons a month, that would add up to about $2 more each month.
The county utility also sells water at wholesale rates to six other cities, each of whom runs a water utility.
Clearwater, Dunedin, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs can expect to pay the county 8 percent more for bulk water. Those cities will then decide whether to pass the added expense on to customers, county officials said.
Lisa Ledoux, a senior accountant in the county's finance department, said the commission approved the rate increases last year as part of five-year rate schedule. Before 2002, the county had not raised water rates since 1995, she said.
Sewer rates are also expected to increase in October.
Tim Wiley, director of customer service for Pinellas County Utilities, said customers can expect to pay $1 a month more in basic charges and 27 cents more for every 1,000 gallons used, up to 16,000 gallons.
The county manages a smaller service area for sewer connections - approximately 74,000 sewer connections, mostly in unincorporated Pinellas and Seminole.
Rates would take effect after October. Wiley said customers are billed bimonthly, so they will receive notification of the increase with their October bill and can expect to first see the added cost in the December bill.
Pinellas County Utilities provides water to 95,716 single-family houses, 6,721 multifamily houses and 7,099 businesses. Most customers live in Largo and Seminole and in Palm Harbor, East Lake and other unincorporated areas of the county.
DOES THIS AFFECT ME?
The water and sewer rate increase will affect customers who receive bills directly from Pinellas County Utilities.
Clearwater, Dunedin, Oldsmar, Pinellas Park, Safety Harbor and Tarpon Springs buy water from the county. It's up to the cities whether they will pass along all or part of the 8 percent increase in wholesale water rate.
Rate increases will take effect in October 2003 and will first appear on December bills.
For answers to your questions, call Pinellas County Utilities customer service line, (727) 424-4000.