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City Council to vote on utility rate increase

A first reading for proposed utility rate increases that would be used to maintain existing utility services was approved by West Plains City Council Tuesday night, with a second reading and final vote on the four bills to be held at the March 21 city council meeting.

If approved in March, new rates for electric, water, sewer and sanitation will go into effect on April 1. Rates for water and sewer were last changed in 2013, and the electric rates have remained unchanged since 2016. However, utility operational costs for the city since that time have outpaced the revenues generated from its customers, and additional regulatory requirements for water and sewer utilities are driving the need for increased investments.

Because the increases have both a flat rate and usage component, the increase will be different for each household. The city estimates the increase to range from $8.06 to $20.74 per month, depending on weather-related usage. To arrive at these estimates, the city compared a sample of bills including a young couple (20’s), a family with children, a middle-aged couple with a child still living at home (3 occupants), a single senior (70+), and a senior couple (70+).

Anticipating critical utility infrastructure needs over the next 30 years, the city received a grant in 2021 to fund the development of an Integrated Management Plan, which has charted a 30-year path to implement the necessary infrastructure improvements in a more affordable and sustainable method for the city and its citizens. As part of this plan, the rates for each of the four utilities are being realigned to ensure that each utility is not only covering its expenses but can fund the infrastructure improvements needed in the future.

The city council will vote on the second reading of the bills at the March 21 City Council meeting. A public comment session will be held at 5 p.m. prior to the regular March meeting.

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