After outdated and overloaded wastewater systems in St. Petersburg pumped out more than 20 million gallons of sewage into the Tampa Bay in the days following Hurricane Hermine, city council officials voted Thursday to move forward with a measure to increase sewer, storm water and reclaimed water rates to help cover the cost of an inadequate system.
Council will have to take a final vote at a second public hearing on September 22.
According to St. Petersburg city councilman Karl Nurse, council voted 8-0 to increase sewer rates by 9.75 percent for maintenance and repair funds. This amount is part of the $60 million Mayor Kriseman announced would be dedicate to help repairing the system.
However, this money alone will not suffice for all the necessary improvements.
Nurse said total costs could exceed $100 million, depending on how widespread pipe leaks are and how many pipes need to be replaced. Nurse said about half of the pipes across the city need to be relined, and about 10 percent might need to be replaced.
Council is also considering a rate hike for storm water fees.
If these measures pass after the second public hearing on September 22, they will take effect as early as November.
The other hike taxpayers could see is for reclaimed water. A current proposal would increase reclaimed water fees by 10 percent each year for five years starting in the 2018 fiscal year.
While the increases will provide the city with a substantial amount of revenue over time, Nurse said the city might have to endure two more rainy seasons before any of the improvements are noticeable.
(© 2016 WTSP)