By Margie Plunkett
A proposed water rate restructuring intended to encourage conservation would shift more of the cost onto larger water users, Delray Beach commissioners learned during a workshop presentation in August.
If people use more water, they should pay for it, Commissioner Adam Frankel said.
Barrier island properties in Delray Beach and Gulf Stream — where lots tend to be bigger, have more landscaping and are more heavily irrigated — could be among those who feel the impact, according to Victor Majternyi, deputy director of public utilities.
The proposal would not change the base rate or the capacity charge for residential users. The base rate is $2.94 a month and the capacity charge for a three-quarter-inch meter, $12.78. But it would change the “commodity” charge, or the price of water used. There would be no change for non-residential users.
The proposed commodity charge increases from the existing rates as the volume of water used rises. For instance, users of up to 3,000 gallons currently pay $1.75 for each 1,000 gallons used. Under the proposal, up to 3,000 gallons of use monthly is included in the base charge. And residents who use 4,000 to 12,000 gallons month would pay $1.25 per 1,000 gallons, still lower than the existing fee.
But as usage increases, the price under the proposal exceeds the existing price. By 26,000 gallons, the user under the restructured rate is paying $3.50 per 1,000 gallons, compared with $2.14 under the existing rates. Both schedules top out for 51,000 gallon-plus users, with the proposal at $4.50 per 1,000 gallons compared with $2.65 under the existing rates.
The irrigation rate rises from $1.94 per 1,000 gallons to $2.43 under the proposal.
The proposed price for reclaimed water also rises with usage, but not near as steeply as regular water. Retail users of reclaimed water now pay $1 for 1,000 gallons. The proposal adopts a sliding scale in which users of up to 25,000 gallons pay $1 and up to 50,000 gallons pay $2. Usage over 51,000 is $3 per 1,000 gallons. Wholesale users would still pay 28 cents per 1,000 gallons.
Connection fees for water under the proposal double, and sewer connections increase as well. Water connections now cost $788, but would rise to $1,600 under the proposal. Sewer connections rise from $1,084 to $1,200.
City Manager David Harden said during the workshop he wasn’t satisfied with the connection fees. Richard Hasko, Delray Beach environmental services director, said he would need more time to review them.
The restructuring, scheduled to go before the commission for a preliminary vote Sept. 10, would take effect Oct. 1 if approved.
Mary Kate Leming contributed to this report.