City OKs rate increase

Posted on October 21, 2016 by Mat Pellegrino

For the second time in a year, South Santa Rosa Utilities System customers will see an increase in their water and sewer rates thanks to a vote at Monday’s City of Gulf Breeze City Council meeting.
The board voted 4-1 to implement a 2 percent increase for both city and SSRUS customers with an additional 3 percent surcharge for SSRUS customers.
That increase comes on top of the 3 percent increase that was implemented late last year for SSRUS customers.
The increase means that a typical SSRUS customer who uses 1,000 gallons of water and sewer can expect to see a $3.78 increase on their bill, amounting to an additional $44 a year, while city customers can expect to pay an additional $37.39 per year because of the increase. The increase comes on the heels of a 3 percent increase implemented a year ago by the city for customers living outside of the city limits. Last year, the city claimed the utility service provider had not taken advantage of state authorized surcharges that could have been tagged onto customers’ bills.
The city had the right to mandate a surcharge of up to 25 percent, but declined, proposing a 6 percent surcharge instead over the course of 2 years. The increase implemented last year allowed SSRUS to generate an additional $150,000 or more in revenue over the last 12 months.
The increase last October effected over 6,000 SSRUS customers. Those customers will now face another 3 percent increase, which will go into effect immediately.
When South Santa Rosa News spoke with former Deputy City Manager Curt Carver last year, the city spokesman said the previous increase for SSRUS customers was levied to help bring their rates up to what city customers were paying.
“The 3 percent surcharge is a way to provide a degree of equity between SSRUS customers and city customers….these residents who pay city taxes,” he told South Santa Rosa News.
Calls to the City of Gulf Breeze regarding the increase were not returned as of press time.