Vero Beach Council to approve smaller sewer rate hike at special meeting

VERO BEACH – The Vero Beach City Council will hold a special meeting this morning beginning at 9:30 to approve a smaller rate hike to the city’s sewer bill. The council also expects to get a financial update from Finance Director Steve Maillet, whose last day is today.

Earlier this month, the council considered lowering the anticipated sewer rate hike from 18 percent to approximately 10 percent in an effort to keep utility rates down for customers. The new rate, if approved, is expected to go into effect soon.

Water and Sewer Director Rob Bolton has told the council that with some restructuring within his department and changes to his budget, a full 18 percent rate increase would not be needed.

Bolton has said the total operating expenses have been reduced mid-year by $213,000 from the original budget. Despite trimming the budget, Bolton said all required and recommended service and maintenance would still be completed.

Another reduction was made because, due to the timing of start and completion of projects payments on loans from the State Revolving Fund were delayed, requiring less revenue this year to cover them.

Rates went up 18 percent in October, along with an increase in drinking water rates. The second half of the sewer rate increases, which were approved by the city council, was scheduled to raise the usage rate from $2.93 to $4.06 per 1,000 gallons used.

Bolton said this would have resulted in a $6.78 increase on the typical bill of a customer with 6,000 gallons of sewage service.

The proposed revised increase would raise the rate from $2.93 to $3.59 per 1,000 gallons. Bolton said that, instead of the $6.78 increase, typical water customers could see an increase of $3.96 per month.

Along with discussing the city’s sewer rate, the council expects to get updates from out-going Finance Director Steve Maillet, who retires tomorrow.

Maillet and other members of staff will be making presentations to the council regarding budgeted employee positions, vacancies and the impact of the furlough days.

Maillet will also be giving a status update on the city’s pension plan for employees.

Barbara Morey, of The Gehring Group, will also be at the meeting to discuss the city’s health insurance.

Also to be discussed are the general fund and enterprise fund statuses, including the airport, marina, water and sewer, solid waste, and the electric utility fund.

Reporter Lisa Zahner contributed to this article.

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