New Year, New Rates

posted in

As the calendar turns over to 2013, the Philadelphia Water Department enters the final phase of the rates process – enacting the rate changes that were settled on by an agreement between the Water Commissioner and Community Legal Services at the end of the public comment period during the summer. The new rates, which went into effect on January 1, 2013, will result in a typical household using 600 cubic feet (about 4500 gallons) paying about $3.31 more per month.

Over the next three years, rates will increase an average of 5.5% per year for a total overall increase of 17.6% over three years. This is significantly lower than the 28.5% increase over four years originally proposed by PWD.The rate change schedule for the next three years is outlined in the chart below:
 

Typical Residential Customer Monthly Billing  

Fiscal Year Additional Monthly
Water & Sewer Charge
Total Monthly Bill % Increase
1/1/13 to 6/30/13
$3.31  $60.74 5.8
7/1/13 to 6/30/14
$3.50 $64.24 5.8
7/1/14 to 6/30/15
$3.19 $67.43 6.0



 

This compromise is the result of a months-long, open, public process that began last February and included multiple public hearings held throughout the city and attended by hundreds of people. After taking into consideration the public’s input, the Hearing Officer recommended a smaller increase than the original proposal resulting in what we have today.

At PWD, we understand that no increase is ever easy but we appreciate the great work that was done by the Community Legal Services and the Hearing Officer appointed by the Mayor, City Council and the City Controller. This process has ensured that the changes you see today reflect all available information about the increased costs PWD faces over the coming years and our efforts to control those costs so that we can continue to offer the lowest rates in the region for some of the highest quality municipal water in the country.

In our continuing effort to be as open, transparent, and communicative as possible we will use the coming days and weeks to lay out once again all of the reasons for the change and explain why Philadelphia water is still the best deal out there. And of course we’ll be using all of our social media channels including this blog, our Facebook page and our Twitter feed to take your questions and concerns and address your issues as quickly as possible.

PWD Commissioner Neukrug has also expressed his appreciation for the feedback and comments received and the time that Philadelphian’s spent taking part in the rates process. Read an excerpt from his letter below and visit our Rates Page for the full letter and specifics on the settlement.

“Since 1952, the City Charter has vested in the Water Commissioner the authority to determine rates and charges. While this responsibility may seem uniquely broad, the process for setting rates is, in fact, significantly checked by a comprehensive filing and hearing process during which all rate payers and other vested parties have the opportunity to participate and provide perspective and meaningful input into the final rate determination. Although I have only had the privilege of serving as Commissioner since 2011, I have the utmost respect for public participation and input and I have carefully reviewed the record generated throughout the more than nine month rate process.

My responsibility as Commissioner is to ensure that adequate revenues are generated such that the Department can fulfill its singular mission of protecting the health and safety of more than 1.7 million citizens and customers by providing the highest quality drinking water and effectively managing wastewater and stormwater. Since rates were last adjusted in FY2009, the Department has operated in a very challenging economic climate. Despite the four years of economic recession, the cost for operating and maintaining the extensive infrastructure of mains, pump stations, water treatment plants and sanitary sewer treatment facilities, as well as meeting higher water-quality standards mandated by the federal and state governments continue to escalate. To address these constant financial challenges we continue as part of our daily operation to aggressively review and identify any and all opportunities to reduce our costs while never sacrificing the overall quality and reliability of our services.“