Austin water bills could decrease with new city council proposal

AUSTIN (KXAN) - Thursday’s Austin City Council agenda looks a bit lighter than in recent weeks. Here’s a quick rundown of the items we’re eyeing.

Austin Water retail customer rates (water & wastewater services)

Austin residents’ water bills could soon be going down if the city approves a new proposal from the utility company. Austin Water is proposing to lower rates, after having to increase them during recent drought years.

“When we were going through the drought we had severe water restrictions, once a day watering and there was more enforcement, so there was a lot of compliance with our restrictions,” said David Anders, Assistant Director of Financial Services at Austin Water. “So good that every year our water use actually went down.”

There is a public hearing scheduled to consider an ordinance amending the rates charged to Austin Water’s retail customers. The changes, which can be seen in this document, could decrease by a little more than $2 per month for the average customer, and the rates should stay that way until 2020.

The proposed rates are scheduled to go into effect May 1. As a result of a Cost of Service Study, which included members of the community known as a Public Involvement Committee (PIC), the utility and PIC members reached an agreement. The deal – reduce retail water and wastewater rates.

As part of the recommendations, the following charges will be impacted:

  • Retail monthly meter equivalent minimum charge
  • Non-CAP and CAP residential volumetric charges
  • Multifamily monthly minimum charge and volumetric rates
  • Commercial monthly minimum charge and volumetric rates
  • Large Volume monthly minimum and volumetric rates
  • Water Revenue Stability Reserve Fund Surcharge (Residential)
  • Waive water drought rates for CAP customers.

Distribution of affordable housing units
This resolution references the Institutional Racism and Systemic Inequalities Task Force’s report that encourages the city to create a policy “that will encourage displaced households to have additional opportunities to return to Austin.” This resolution would direct the City Manager to propose a policy that related to the distribution of affordable housing units for low and moderate income households based on “generational ties” to the city. That being said, it states those ties should not be the sole factor to determine eligibility. The idea is to zero in on areas experiencing rapid development, gentrification and displacement.

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