City Council passed 4% water rate increase

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COLUMBIA –  The Columbia City Council passed a four percent increase in revenue from water fees.

There were four different proposed plans the city council was going to vote on. They finally passed the staff recommended one 4-3 Tuesday night.

A consultant came in last year with proposals, but city leaders decided to change it up. Staff recommended a similar rate structure, a big difference is the water rate increase will be phased in to allow for a 2-year transition from current water rates. 

One percent of the increase is going to operating and maintenance and three percent is going to debt service. 

But the average household might not need to worry, as the increase will impact households that use a lot of water, like commercial businesses.

One restaurant owner said it all depends on his bill at the end of the month. 

“You know, if it’s $5, then it probably won’t affect us but if you start talking tens of dollars or hundreds of dollars then it’s definitely something that we’ll have to look at and kind of maybe readjust some of our usage based on that,” Ben Parks, the owner of Barred Owl Butcher & Table said.

If the rate gets to be too much, he said he might have to charge more for other things.

“The amount of water that we use is kind of set. We still have to wash dishes,” Parks said. “There’s not a whole lot of room for us to make up that difference.”

Other residents voiced their concerns at the meeting.

"We were told a 11 percent increase and we had separate operation increases. When I look at the city budget and I can see what our operation increases are and I can see what our voter approved increases are. That is transparent to me as a citizen. None of this tells me that."

The Water and Light department wanted it approved before this summer.