A rate increase of five percent is being proposed for water/wastewater in San Marcos, pending the adoption by the City Council. The Council held there second of three readings for the proposed rate increase and the community was present to make themselves heard. During the reading San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz gave order to staff to provide residents with index card on which they could write their question and comments and have them answered, at the end of the rate presentation, by the Director of Water/Wastewater Utilities Tom Taggart.Residents posed several written questions to Taggart, all of which he answered and for some, provided evidence. Taggart also provided the audience with some insight that drew several perplexed faces in the audience.
“Property taxes do not fund utilities at all,” said Taggart. “Many times it’s easier to increase rates in low increments, instead of a high increase in one year.”
Mayor Narvaiz asked city staff if other alternatives were possible. She said the rate increase should be deferred for one year.
“Is there no other place we can get this money?” asked the Narvaiz. “What we’d like to know is what are our choices.”
The five percent increase is projected to produce $1,079,000; Narvaiz asked if the cost could not be passed on to the residents and instead have it covered with the city savings account for this upcoming fiscal year while other alternatives and options are considered.
Taggart said San Marcos currently has enough water for its residents until 2027 if growth does not exceed the forecasted expectations. He said this rate increase and those to come are necessary for a new Wastewater Treatment Plant and to ensure water for San Marcos the next fifty years. Taggart also added that currently San Marcos has between five and six million gallons of wastewater going through the wastewater treatment plant and law requires a new treatment plant when 75 percent capacity is reached.
Narvaiz said she understands these needs must be met and wants to fund it as requested, but she does not want to pass the increase onto the residents for another year, which would allow the Council to revisit all the moving parts.
According to the presentation the impact to the average customer combined water/wastewater bill with the five percent increase would be $4.61 for the residents in the city. Currently the average is $92.68 and the proposed amount average would be $97.29. For the residents outside the city, the increase would be $5.79, currently the average is $115.88 and the proposed average amount would be $121.66.
By ANDY SEVILLA