Brevard County pushes annual rate increases for water and sewer customers for next five years

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The Brevard County Utilities Department proposes that water and sewer rates for its customers increase over each of the next five years.

County commissioners must approve the proposals. Last week, the commissioners unanimously authorized the publicity of public hearings related to the increases, thereby setting the rate-setting process in motion. If commissioners approve the plan, the increases would take effect in early 2022.

Brevard County Utilities Manager Edward Fontanin speaks to county commissioners about proposed increases in water and sewer rates.

Under the proposal, water and sewer rates would increase for customers of Brevard’s utilities on Merritt Island, along the southern beaches and in North Brevard, in Port St. John and on the mainland. from the center-south of the following amounts:

  • 2022: 6.5%

  • 2023: 8.5%

  • 2024: 8.5%

  • 2025: 8.5%

  • 2026: 7.5%

In the Barefoot Bay District Water and Sewer System, the proposed increases in water and sewer rates would be larger and occur over the next four years:

  • 2022: 10.0%

  • 2023: 13.0%

  • 2024: 13.0%

  • 2025: 13.0%

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The proposed rate increases would not affect customers of the county’s other water and sewer systems, such as those operated by Cocoa, Melbourne, Palm Bay and Titusville. These cities set prices for their customers, many of whom live outside the city limits.

Reasons for proposed increases

In a note to County Commissioners, Director of Utilities Edward Fontanin said the increases are needed to help pay for:

  • Investments to comply with Florida environmental laws.

  • Replacing treatment facilities that are past their useful life and increasing capacity for future development in Barefoot Bay, Mims and Port St. John.

  • Provide money to supplement future costs of constructing sewer septic tanks.

  • Increase operations and maintenance efforts to maintain reliability throughout the utility system.

“The utility department has conducted a needs assessment and an assessment of the functionality, reliability and capacity of all of the county’s utility facilities, in order to meet the needs and demands determined by future utility connections and state and federal regulations, ”Fontanin said in his memo. . “Raftelis Financial Consultants Inc. has completed a review of the ministry’s revenue projections for required future investments in the water and sewer system. Our estimate of future investments over a 10-year period will be $ 460 million, ”including $ 63 million to comply with Florida laws.

County Commissioner Bryan Lober said the projects would help reduce the risk of pollutants entering the Indian River Lagoon.

“You can’t complain that the river is not good, but we don’t want to allow the commission to do anything to fix it,” Lober said.

Lober cited, for example, the county’s sewage lift stations that are much older than their expected lifespan.

“These things are time bombs waiting to explode,” Lober said.

Lober also said the costs of upgrades are rising, in part due to supply shortages, minimum wage increases and inflation.

Residents oppose the plan

Two local residents spoke out in public comments against the proposed rate increases.

Ronaldas Jurgutis, a resident of Pineda Crossing Drive, just outside Melbourne, said the proposed round of annual rate hikes were “blatant” and would hurt seniors and other people on fixed incomes.

Sandra Sullivan of South Patrick Shores criticized Brevard County's proposed water and sewer rate increases, noting that they follow increases in garbage collection fees and fire assessment fees in Brevard County. county.

Sandra Sullivan of South Patrick Shores criticized the water and sewer rate increases proposed by Brevard County, noting they follow the increase in the county’s waste collection fees and assessment fees fires.

Sandra Sullivan of South Patrick Shores also criticized the proposal, noting it follows the increase in the county’s garbage collection fee and fire assessment fee.

Sullivan is one of four candidates slated for the Brevard County Commission in District 4 for 2022, seeking to succeed Curt Smith, who cannot be re-elected due to term limits.

According to the county’s proposal, the average residential sewer bill for Brevard County Utilities Department customers outside of Barefoot Bay would drop from $ 46.12 per month currently to $ 49.12 per month in 2022. That stands compares to average rates of $ 47.23 for Melbourne utility customers, $ 54.75 for Palm Bay customers, $ 54.88 for Cocoa customers and $ 55.49 for Titusville customers.

Under the proposal, the average combined sewer and water bill for customers in the Brevard County Utilities Department would drop from $ 74.40 per month to $ 79.24 per month in 2022. This stands compares to average rates of $ 78.85 for Melbourne utility customers, $ 82.84 for Palm Bay. clients, $ 89.26 for Cocoa clients and $ 89.94 for Titusville clients.

In the Barefoot Bay Water and Sewer District system, the proposed rates for 2022 would be $ 77.08 for sewer service and $ 114.15 for combined sewer and water service. .

Taxpayers will be notified of upcoming rate increase hearings through legal notice in a newspaper and through notices mailed to them in their water and sewer bills.

Due to the delay in inserting notices into utility bills, the county expects the tariff proposal to be submitted to the county commission in March and, if approved, to take effect for the next month. April billing cycle.

In the years to come, beyond those specified in the tariff increase proposals, the plan foresees that the annual tariff increases will be linked to the annual variations of a special consumer price index for the maintenance of sewers and water.

David berman is a business writer at FLORIDA TODAY. Contact Berman at dberman@floridatoday.com. Twitter: @bydaveberman.

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This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Brevard County Utility Offers Increases for Water and Sewer Customers



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