Town Hall meeting in Freeport presents utility rate and capacity fee study

ALEX ROUCHALEAU along with Charlie Simmons made the presentation.

Story by ADRIANNE WALLINE CAMPBELL 

The city of Freeport presented its utility rate and capacity fee study Sept. 9, 2021, at the city hall. Most chairs were filled by the public interested in this topic. The rates are set to go up and there would be another meeting about it on Sept. 14, at 8 a.m. Fees vary for residential or commercial structures, whether inside or outside of city limits, or the west end of Hwy. 20, i.e. North Bay, and amount of usage. The new rates would be implemented gradually in 3 segments over 3 years. The rate increase could begin as soon as Oct. 1, 2021, should the council vote to do so. They could possibly postpone it. 

Alex Rouchaleau led the presentation and Charlie Simmons interjected points of merit. Mayor Russ Barley and Sara Bowers were also present but didn’t comment. None of the board members were present as it was not voted upon. 

THE MEETING WAS WELL ATTENDED.

The last time the rates were updated was in 2010 except for some minor updates. The tap fee and impact fee have been combined and changed to capacity fee. 

For residential water, base rate goes up to $15 inside city limits and $18.75 for both outside city limits and North Bay. They propose to streamline the rates from a minimum of 0 to 2,500 gallons and have one 0 to 10,000 rate. The next rate proposed is from 10,001 to 20,000 gallons, then over 20,000 gallons. The rates for inside city limits will be:

• 0 – 10,000 will be $3.0576 per thousand gallons added to the $15 base rate. 

• 10,001 – 20,000 will be $4.7481 per thousand gallons added to the base rate. 

• 20,001 gallons plus will be $7.9086 per thousand gallons added to the base rate. 

Rates for outside city limits and North Bay will be:

• 0 – 10,000 will be $3.822 per thousand gallons added to the base rate of $18.75.

• 10,001 – 20,000 will be $5.935125 per thousand gallons added to the base rate. 

• 20,001 gallons plus will be $9.88575 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

The base rate for commercial water users will be $25 inside city limits and $31.25 outside city limits and North Bay.  There is a 30% discount for commercial rates versus residential rates. Rates for inside city limits will be:

• 0 – 10,000 will be $3.36336 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• 10,001 – 20,000 will be $5.22291 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• 20,001 gallons plus will be $8.69946 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

The sewer rates will go up as well. The base rate for residential properties inside city limits will be $25. Outside city limits and North Bay will be $31.25. It will also be divided into 3 different categories depending on amount used. 

Residential sewer rates for inside city limits will be:

• 0 – 5000 gallons will be $4.65 per thousand gallons added to the base rate. 

• 5,001 – 20,000 will be $6.27 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• Over 20,001 gallons will be $7.524 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

Residential sewer rates for outside city limits and North Bay will be:

• 0 – 5,000 gallons will be $5.8125 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• 5,001 – 20,000 gallons will be $7.8375 per thousand gallons added to the base rate. 

• Over 20,001 gallons will be $9.405 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

Commercial sewer base rate will go up to $45 inside city limits and $56.25 outside city limits and North Bay. The rates for inside city limits will be:

• 0 – 5,000 will be $6.16 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• 5,001 – 20,000 will be $6.897 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• Over 20,001 gallons will be $8.2764 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

Commercial sewer rates for outside city limits and North Bay will be:

• 0 – 5,000 gallons will be $7.70 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• 5,001 – 20,000 will be $8.62125 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

• Over 20,001 gallons will be $10.3455 per thousand gallons added to the base rate.

Beginning on October 1 of year 4, and each subsequent year, the rates will increase by the current year price index published by the Florida Public Service Commission. 

Capacity fees will also go up. The following are for water lines from 5/8”, ¾”, and 1”.  Currently the fee to connect to water inside city limits is $1,094.02, sewer inside city limits is $6,934. To connect outside city limits and North Bay to water is $1,367.53 and sewer is $8,667.49. The capacity fee is proposed to go up to $2,995 for water and $7,490 for sewer inside city limits. For outside city limits and North Bay, the capacity rate is proposed to go up to $3,743.75 for water and $9,362.50 for sewer. Water lines larger than 1”, the meter will be the responsibility of the developer, at the direction of the city of Freeport. 

Fifty percent of the water capacity fee revenue will be placed into a primary operating account, the remaining fifty percent shall be placed into a reserve account. The reserve account is for the purpose of funding future expansions, maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to the systems. Twenty-five percent of the sewer capacity fee revenue will go into the primary operating account for the city’s wastewater system, and the remaining seventy-five percent shall be placed into a reserve account.

On October 1, 2022, and each subsequent year the rates will go up according to the current year price index published by the Florida Public Service Commission.