110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Al Everson
posted Dec 24, 2012 - 10:46:14am
Three months after controversy mounted over rising utility bills in Deltona, and more than a month after the City Commission ordered a $25 cut in monthly sewage charges, a few Deltonans are wondering when they will actually see the promised relief.
Have any sewage customers complained to City Hall about the delay?
“Not that I’ve heard,” Deltona Public Information Director Lee Lopez said, when The Beacon asked about the rate cut on behalf of a somewhat-bewildered customer who contacted the newspaper.
The reduction in Deltona’s sewage bills is coming, city officials say. However, the rate cut will not show up until after the holidays. Here’s why: Timing is everything.
After the City Commission was besieged by water and sewage customers upset about a pending 17.25-percent increase in utility rates and charges, the commission in late October tentatively voted to reduce the base charge for residential sewage service by $25 per month.
Water rates, meanwhile, remained frozen at the previous fiscal year’s levels; the latest 17.25-percent hike was not implemented.
Before the rate cut could become actual public policy, the City Commission had to pass a formal resolution mandating the sewage-rate reduction. That vote did not occur until the commission’s Nov. 5 meeting.
The sewage usage for December will show up in meter readings taken in January, Lopez explained, and that usage will be billed to customers in January — two months after the City Commission ordered the rate cut.
Deltona officials have said the reduction in sewage bills may be short-lived, while a consultant studies the city’s utility-rate structure.
The results of that study, and recommendations for rates and charges, will be submitted to the City Commission in a few months. The commission may adopt the consultant’s recommendations, modify them, or reject them altogether.
Deltona has approximately 6,000 residential sewage customers, and about 29,000 water-only customers. Water-only customers rely on septic tanks for waste disposal.
The average Deltona customer with both sewage and water service has a monthly bill of about $146 before the planned $25 reduction.
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