Sioux Falls utility rates may be on the rise. Public Works officials made the announcement to city council members Tuesday evening. But they say the rate hikes are not as high as they’d planned.
The sprinklers were on in front of Kelly Moffatt's house as the sun dipped Tuesday evening. But keeping the yard green comes at a price. Her water bill is already up about $9 from last year but Moffatt doesn't plan to stop watering.
“It'd have to go up quite a bit for us, but we're not raising a family. It's just my husband and I so we don't have additional family expense,” she said.
The city wants to raise water rates three percent per year over the next two years. For the average household, that's about $.80 per month each year. Sewer bills are also set to go up eight percent, totaling nearly $5 per month by 2014.
“Our operating budget is down. So with the people, wages, the operations budget is down,” said Sioux Falls Public Works Director Mark Cotter. “But you've got other costs going up like debt from Lewis and Clark and those aspects.”
City officials say the water hikes are lower than initial projections. They planned for yearly hikes more than twice the three percent proposed Tuesday.
“We're getting to be a larger city. And with 75 square miles and stresses that come with that much infrastructure, we know things can happen,” Cotter said.
The city is offsetting some of the increases with reserve funds. Sioux Falls officials also want to raise electric utility rates for the small amount of customers who get power from the city. The Sioux Falls City Council will take up the issue next month.