Water and sewer rates will increase in Houston.

Water and sewer rates will increase on March bills to bring revenue more in line with operational expenses, the Houston City Council decided Monday night.

The new rates that go into effect Feb. 15 – which are still being determined – will appear on bills in March, said City Administrator Larry Sutton.

City residents earlier approved a sewer increase as part of the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant in Houston. Sutton said half of the promised increase was extended earlier and the second half will arrive in the spring. Thanks to a $1.75 million federal stimulus grant for the new plant a higher rate won’t be required. The new facility is now online.

The main focus of the increase will be water rates, which haven’t been raised in several years, Sutton said. A study of other community rates was completed, he said, noting that Houston’s charges will still be competitive with other municipalities.

Any future water rate increases will be adjusted gradually under a long-term plan – rather than waiting to extend one big hike, he said.

“No one likes an increase, but we need for them (water and sewer services) to break even,” said Sutton.

Both departments continue to make improvements to accommodate growth in the city.

In other matters, members:

-Discussed progress on sewer capital outlays. The community’s new wastewater treatment plant is operational, and the city is compiling its checklist to close out that portion of the project. It’s likely that a tower will be torn down in-house, Sutton reported, in order to save funds that will be used for other improvements.

The city also plans to fill a lagoon that was earlier cleaned. It is no longer needed because of the new treatment plant.

Additional discussions are planned with the city’s engineering firm, Hood-Rich Architects in Springfield.

-Approved spending about $5,800 to install materials to improve the acoustics at the Houston Storm Shelter.



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