VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach City Council is asking for public input into the proposed water and sewer rate hikes to take effect October 1, and the new electric rates that will go into effect January 1 when the City begins purchasing power from the Orlando Utilities Commission.
Two public hearings, being billed as Town Hall sessions, on the proposed rate adjustments will be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday and at 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Vero Beach City Hall in council chambers.
In response to the findings of the first utility rate study conducted in 18 years, the City of Vero Beach is proposing raising water rates 7.5 percent and sewer rates 29.5 percent in October, ostensibly to keep up with the operating and maintenance costs of the aging system.
Electric base rates are also slated to go up, but the City is promising that lower fuel costs will cause this summer’s sky-high electric bills to go down a bit despite higher base rates.
The out-of-city surcharge that more than 60 percent of electricity customers pay has been eliminated from the recommended rate proposal, so customers inside and outside the city will pay the same rate for electric beginning in January.
City of Vero Beach Electric customers now pay 50 to 58 percent more for the same amount of power as Florida Power and Light customers.
The new rates for all the utilities would establish usage tiers to encourage conservation. Another proposed changes will be that seasonal residents will no longer be allowed to disconnect water and sewer service over the summer months, so they will be responsible for base charges year-round.
In an effort to make the cost of power suring the winter peak season more akin to the real cost of obtaining the fuel to produce that power, electric usage rates will be higher from October 1 t0 May 1 than they will be from May 1 to October 1. This change, if approved by Council, will take effect in October 2010.
The backup material on the water, sewer and electric rate studies and recommendations are available on the City’s website www.covb.org by clicking on Meeting Calendar and then on the listing for the Town Hall meeting.