Utility bills in Richmond could be going up

By Rachel DePompa - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The city wants to raise your gas, water and wastewater bills. The rate increase amounts to about an extra $1.20 each month for the average homeowner or renter in the city. Its part of Mayor Dwight Jones' proposed 2011 budget.

The city's Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of operations and the director of public utilities, Chris Beschler, said, "We're proposing a 2% rate increase for gas; a 4% for water and a 2% for wastewater."

For the average residential customer those increases amount to an .83-cent hike in your gas bill each month. A .15-cent increase to your water bill each month and a .22-cent cent hike each month in your wastewater bill.

Commercial business rates can't be determined because the size of businesses in the city varies greatly, but utility bills would be larger for business owners.

If approved by the Richmond City Council, you would notice the increases in your July bills.

Beschler says the rate increases are necessary because of new federal regulations. "Everything that we do whether it's gas water or wastewater or storm water as well is all regulatory driven and what these are unfunded mandates."

For instance, by the end of the year, the city has to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus it's pumping into the James River which means it needs $115 million to upgrade the waste water plant.

"The state has been very generous and they have funded about 45% of that but our customers have to pay the other 65%," Beschler said.

City Council has to approve the increases to your utility bills. Members will vote on the full budget proposal at their May 24 meeting at 6:00 p.m. at city hall.

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