Richmond utility rate hike kicks in July 1

Richmond utility rate hike kicks in July 1

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Come July 1, Richmond residents will see an increase in their utility bills. The hike comes after City Council approved Mayor Levar Stoney’s budget plan for a 3.5 to 4 percent boost in water and gas rates.

The average customer will be paying about a $6 more per month. That’s $72 more a year.

The city’s Department of Public Utilities Director Calvin Farr, Jr. said the extra money will help replace the city’s century-old pipes, and to keep the James River clean.

If you live in Richmond, you’ve likely had to take a detour around a water main break at some point, or construction to replace pipes that can be about 100 years old.

"When we dug down on the pipe, it had (year) 1924 on it," said Farr. "We have to be more aggressive in regards to replacing these pipelines."

The rate hike includes a 3.5 percent increase in gas, and a 4 percent hike for water, wastewater and storm water.

"There are a lot of water main breaks. I lived in the Oregon Hill area and there were frequent water main breaks there, so if it’s going to fix stuff like that, I can certainly see the benefit of it,” said city resident Carl Timperio.

The city has consistently raised utilities for the last decade, often receiving a predicted backlash from the public.

“I can see that some people might be frustrated," added Timperio.

However, Farr says DPU is trying to keep the shock-factor on monthly bills reigned in, particularly in the future.

"…Modest increases,” said Far. “If we don’t raise rates now, we’re going to have to raise them later, and it’s going to be more of an impact.”

DPU says that because of all the projects they’ve done over the past three decades, to mitigate wastewater and storm water going into the James River, and to bolster the water treatment plant, pollution in the James has been reduced significantly.

Still, some residents may feel the pinch of a heftier utility bill.

"We have programs to help with the hardships,” said Farr.

Richmond has multiple assistance programs to help residents afford utility fees, from payment plans, to vouchers for people in need and tips on how you can conserve to save money.

Farr says utilities are not cut off for seniors.

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