48 On Your Side: Huntsville Utilities proposes 35% water rate increase

WAFF 48's Romario Gardner reporting
Published: Aug. 10, 2023 at 10:39 PM CDT

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Residents in the Rocket City may end up having to pay more for their water rates in the future.

Huntsville city council members held a first reading for a proposal allowing Huntsville Utilities to raise water rates by 35%.

Huntsville Utilities spokesperson Joe Gehrdes said the proposal comes seven years after the last water rate hike for customers. He said this request results from high growth, coupled with the high cost of materials and business due to inflation.

“It’s not because we want it. It’s because we need it,” said Gehrdes. “We work under a cost-to-provide service model and we can no longer provide the service with the rates we’re collecting.”

The average residential customer using 4,000 gallons will increase monthly by $6.34. The average residential customer with 4,000 gallons of usage and 6,000 gallons of sprinkler usage will increase monthly by $16.97.

Councilman Devyn Keith spoke to Gehrdes during his presentation advocating for more transparency.

“What I’m asking you to do in your professional stance is explain it in a way that customers understand, not constituents,” said Councilman Keith. “I think you’ll have a much more positive, nobody’s going be happy about this but a much more positive understanding.”

Gehrdes said Huntsville Utilities will still have one of the lowest rates in the state if the proposed price hike is approved.

“We certainly know that that’s toughest on the people who can afford it the least,” said Gehrdes. “We’ll do everything we can to communicate that out in social media, and those spaces where customers can meet us and get the information that they need to prepare for this increase.”

Huntsville Utilities will meet in two weeks at the next council meeting to give a more in-depth presentation and allow citizens to voice their concerns.

Gehrdes says a final vote could come as early as September.

Click Here to Subscribe on YouTube: Watch the latest WAFF 48 news, sports & weather videos on our YouTube channel!