HOUSTON - A moment of massive taxpayer expense coming at City Hall with a majority of the Council poised to increase the cost of water and wastewater for every Houston home and business.
How big a hike?
According to numbers published by Houston Public Works, an average household using 3,000 gallons every 30 days will see the monthly bill rise from $33 to nearly $55 dollars over the next five years. That's a 63 percent increase.
Councilman Edward Pollard says the higher rates are needed to fund a $2 billion overhaul of the City's failing water infrastructure - repairs demanded by the Federal Government.
"My message is, it's a shared sacrifice. I don't think we should kick the can down the road. You know many times with government we do a lot of patchwork and I'm not the patchwork type of guy. I think we need to take care of what we need to take care of right now, so we don't end up having to pay more in the future," said Pollard
Council Member Amy Peck is a "no" vote. She believes with federal aid amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into City accounts, Council has the capacity to cushion the financial blow for ratepayers, particularly those on low and fixed incomes.
"I am absolutely concerned about people who have planned out their budget. They know how much they normally pay in their water bill every month and this could really significantly impact people and this is for something that everybody needs. This isn't a Luxury. This is a necessity. With everyone still hurting from Covid-19, with our economy the way it is, now is not the right time for a rate increase," said Peck.
Public Works says even with the additional proposed cost to customers Houstonians will pay less for water than folks in Dallas, San Antonio, Ft. Worth and Austin.
The rate increase is scheduled for a vote on Wednesday.