The utility rate adjustment that was approved by the Tulsa City Council last May as part of the FY 2006-07 City budget is now in effect. Tulsans will notice the slight adjustment in their November utility bills.
The Tulsa City Council voted in May to approve the rate change, which will increase monthly bills by about $3.71 per month for the average household. The last rate increase was in 2004.
“Several things have driven up the rates Tulsa must charge for these services,” said Mike Buchert, Assistant Public Works Director. “For one thing, since 2004, there has been a 7 percent increase in the Consumer Price Index. Also, there has been a 40 percent increase in natural gas costs, and a 30 percent increase in electricity. On top of that, the City of Tulsa, like other cities, has seen a 20 percent increase in the costs of the chemicals we use in water treatment.”
The new rates went into effect October 1, 2006, and will first appear on customer bills in November 2006.
“The City has to adjust our rates to better reflect the cost of service and keep up with the rate of inflation. In the two years since our last utility increase, everything has gone up in cost,” Buchert added.
Public Works relies on utility user fees to maintain present or improved levels of service, to continue adequate maintenance programs, replace older lines and maintain adequate water pressure and public safety.
With the rate adjustment, the City of Tulsa can move forward with about $40 million in critical capital improvement projects that help ensure the deliverability of water. Among them are projects that upgrade the wastewater systems in Tulsa. Both of the two primary sewage treatment plants (Northside and Southside) were built in 1953. Original equipment is still in use, and equipment service life has been exceeded. A.B. Jewell Drinking Water Treatment Plant has been in service for 30 years and now requires many upgrades.
On the maintenance side, Public Works has an aggressive program to clean out 1,869 miles of sanitary sewer main lines to keep them free of debris and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows.
The storm water fee pays for drainage projects in neighborhoods, maintenance of 96 public detention ponds, and to clear out 988 miles of roadside ditches and ensure 439 miles of open channels are free flowing. These storm drains allow rainwater to flow directly into nearby rivers, and in most instances, can prevent or reduce neighborhood flooding.
The last rate increase for public utilities for residents in the city of Tulsa was an average 2.9 percent increase in 2004, or an additional $1.51 per month per household. The 2006 increase in rates for Tulsa utilities of 7 percent will mean that the average household will pay 12 cents more per day or $3.71 per month.