Facebook Twitter

Provo utility hikes take effect this month

SHARE Provo utility hikes take effect this month
Starting this month, Provo residents should expect to see a substantial jump in their utility bills.

Starting this month, Provo residents should expect to see a substantial jump in their utility bills.


PROVO — Starting this month, Provo residents should expect to see a substantial jump in their utility bills.

Even though the Provo City Council decided against a proposed 1.75 percent property tax increase this year when it passed the 2017 fiscal year budget last month, it did approve a second year of utility fee hikes as part of a five-year plan to improve the city's water system.

This year, the average home's total monthly utility bill is projected to increase by $12.59 in wastewater, sanitation, stormwater and electricity fees, according to the budget. Last year's combined fee increase equaled $15.37.

The average household pays about $150 to $200 a month for all utilities.

The hikes won't stop there, however. The average Provo homeowner's monthly utility bills are expected to increase by another $40 over the next three years. That would mean an additional $65 a month or $780 a year by 2020.

The new revenue generated through 2020 is projected to equal more than $20 million and fund several improvement projects, including a new reservoir and repairs to the city's main waterline, said City Council Chairwoman Kim Santiago.

"The clock is ticking on our infrastructure, but the money hasn't increased over the years to take care of it," Santiago said, noting that Provo's utility fees haven't increased over the past 20 years.

"So now we're at a point where we have to have some signficant increases in order to take care of what we feel is at a really critical point," she said.

Santiago said Provo has plenty of water, but it doesn't have enough water reservoirs to fulfill demand. During summer months, Provo residents use 53 million gallons of water, but the city can only store about 33 million gallons in its tanks at any given time.

"So our tanks completely empty before they fill back up. That causes water pressure issues for our residents," she said.

Santiago also pointed out that the city's main waterline has aged to 60 to 90 years in certain areas within the system.

"We're just trying to not kick the can down the road and make sure our infrastructure is going to be excellent and be able to provide the services our residents expect," she said.

A water master plan drafted in 2013 recommended Provo invest more than $60 million in capital improvements over 10 years.

While council members proceeded with the five-year plan this year, Santiago said they will be evaluating it each budget cycle, so rates could change.

That decision could depend on the results of a study slated to be completed before next year's budget process to evaluate the impact the fee increases are having on Provo residents.

"We have real, critical needs, but if we can't handle the burden or if we need to spread it out over more years or find other ways to help cover those costs, then we'll look at it," she said.

Email: kmckellar@deseretnews.com

Twitter: KatieMcKellar1