By Madelyn Weirich
SAN MARCOS — The City Council will discuss increasing water/wastewater and electricity rates by 5% each this Tuesday during a regularly scheduled meeting.
If passed, the new rates will be implemented starting Oct. 1. The meeting will include a public hearing, during which citizens may speak or have a written statement read out loud.
The proposed increases on the city level come at the same time that energy costs are skyrocketing for the Texas Grid as a whole. Two weeks ago, prices peaked at $4,750 a megawatt-hour, more than 60% greater than the previous day’s average of $75 a megawatt-hour.
Texas State Senior Christian Rodriguez is not looking forward to the additional increase the City Council is proposing.
“I’m sure they have their reasons, but it’s not something I’m super happy to hear,” Rodriguez said. “I think it’s just another way of passing on the problems of our state government onto the public, but on a local level.”
Rodrguez has already made budget cuts because of the heat wave this year and worries he may need to make more.
“These people are always telling me to stimulate the economy, but I can’t stimulate the economy if I’m paying for my energy bill.”
Council members aren’t excited about the proposed increase, but they view it as necessary. The change was recommended last July by the Citizen’s Utility Advisory Board in order to cover the increase in costs of providing utility services.
Jon Locke, finance director for the San Marcos City Council, explained during his presentation that without the proposed increase, the city’s utility provider would be unable to cover its annual expenses.
The new costs are made up partly by a rise in prices from river authorities San Marcos utilities have contracts with. Alliance Water Authority and Canyon Regional Water Authority are raising operating costs, and the Lower Colorado River Authority is raising the price of wholesale power.
Beyond the rise in prices nationwide, Locke added that San Marcos’ electric, water and wastewater departments need to replace equipment this year, which would total over $1.7 million. They also hope to raise pay for employees to even it out with inflation.
Locke also compared electric utility rates in San Marcos to those of neighboring cities like Austin and New Braunfels. He assured the council that the proposed increase is in line with what other cities charge.
“Even with the proposed five percent adjustment, the city would still have the lowest electric rate for all the residential users,” Locke said.
City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Citizens who wish to provide public comment during the public hearing must sign up by emailing email@example.com before 12 p.m. the day of the meeting.
Written by: Danielle De Lucia