By Maria Herrera
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Thursday, September 4, 2008
Delray Beach – It will cost more to flush a toilet in Delray Beach.
Officials gave initial approval Wednesday to increasing water, sewage and trash pickup rates.
“It’s is better to increase it a little each year than all at once,” said City Manager David Harden, who said the city has been increasing fees over the years as fuel prices and the cost of living have risen.
Water will be 5 percent more expensive with the average customer paying $5 or $6 more per month. Officials point at the higher cost of chemicals to treat water and a reduction in usage for the rate increase.
But during a City Commission workshop last month where officials considered the hike, Commissioner Fred Fetzer said he was concerned that residents would feel penalized for conserving water.
Handling sewage also got more expensive. In documents handed to commissioners, Harden said the increases are needed to pay for the cost of eliminating the discharge of treated sewage into the ocean and developing the city’s reclaimed water system.
The increases also reflect a hike by the South Central Regional Waste Water Treatment and Disposal Board.
For a customer using 10,000 gallons of water, rates will go from about $33 per month to about $35. Sewage fees will go up from $45 per month to about $51.
The city last raised fees in 2006 when it underestimated how much money it would have collected in onetime connection fees.
The fee approvals followed a tentative adoption of the city’s $147 million budget with a tax rate of $6.45 per $1,000 of assessed value. Final approval is scheduled for Sept. 16.
That means the owner of a house valued at $300,000 would see a tax bill of about $1,612. That’s about $76 less than last year.
Harden said that though the tax rate is higher than last year’s, the city is not really raising taxes because it is not taking in additional revenue.
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