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Longboat Key Thursday, Apr. 23, 2009 8 years ago

Longboat water bills to decrease

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

The Longboat Key Town Commission agreed at its Thursday, April 16 regular workshop to eliminate most of the water-and-wastewater-rate increase that it implemented in November.

Last month, residents authorized the financing of a $27 million bond that will help pay for skyrocketing town water-and-wastewater, capital-improvement projects, in part, because they were told the commission would do its best to decrease the 10% overall pay-as-you-go rate increase it implemented late last year.

To raise the extra capital for the projects, which have come in over budget, rate increases of 14% in 2010 and 9% in 2011 were suggested last year.

But, the town’s rate consultant, Bryan Mantz, with Public Resource Management Group, believes that because the voters have approved the bond, there is potential to reduce water-and-wastewater rates by 9.3% in fiscal year 2009 and hold the number steady through September 2010, which would make the bills slightly lower than those implemented in November.

In the meantime, Mantz believes the town’s rates should generate enough revenue to satisfy debt-service-coverage requirements, while bond financing for State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing is hopefully secured in the next three months, which would allow the town to acquire a bond with an interest rate of around 2.98%.

But the commission grew wary at the meeting, when Town Manager Bruce St. Denis suggested that pass-through rates from Manatee County, which result in slight increases for its water users each year, should still be implemented.

Because, in that case, the town would decrease rates, then slightly raise them again later in the year to compensate for higher bills from Manatee County, the commission asked St. Denis and Finance Director Tom Kelley to come back with a slightly smaller decrease in rates, approximately 7%, which would result in residents not seeing any future increases until at least 2010.

“We said we would reduce the rates for our citizens, and we are obligated to do so,” said Mayor Lee Rothenberg.

Water-and-wastewater rates will continue to be reviewed on an annual basis once the decreases are implemented on first and second readings at future commission regular meetings.

Contact Kurt Schultheis at [email protected].

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