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Increase in sewer rates is explored

Single-family homes could see a rate jump of about $3.25 to $7.

By RITA FARLOW
Published March 30, 2007


LARGO - In an era of rising rents, property taxes and insurance rates, Largo officials are considering another cost to city residents - an 18 percent average increase in sewer rates.

While the number might seem high, it's lower than the 22 percent increase that the city's environmental services department asked for several months ago.

Under the proposal, single-family residential customers who now pay between $21.55 and $28.40 a month for using 1,000 to 8,000 gallons, will pay between $24.80 and $35.40, if the rate increase goes into effect July 1.

The city has about 16,000 single-family customers, and the average customer uses about 5,000 gallons per month. Rate increases proposed for duplexes and apartments would be similar to those for single-family homes. Commercial customers would see an increase between 6 and 19 percent.

Because the rate is based on a variable structure, customers who use more water will see a higher percentage increase. The city was able to lower the proposed increase by shaving costs on other environmental services projects and using a $2-million surplus from the department's 2006 budget.

The increase will fund improvements and expansion of filtration systems, pipes and manholes. It will also pay for part of a $5.6-million project to curb wastewater overflows caused by heavy rainfalls.

But residents shouldn't get too comfortable with the proposed new rates. Another increase is on the table that would raise rates an additional 15 percent beginning in October 2009.

If commissioners approve an ordinance on the new sewer rates at their April 4 meeting, a public hearing will be scheduled for April 17.

BY THE NUMBERS

$5.6-million The cost of the project to curb wastewater overflows

16,000 single-family customers in the city

5,000 The number of gallons the average customer uses in a month

Information from Times files was used in this report.