St. Pete water bills could go up to pay for multi-million dollar sewer upgrades

Water bills could go up 10-20%
Posted at 5:16 PM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-11 05:44:38-04

If you live in St. Pete, get ready for your water bill to spike. The city is making big improvements to the sewer system across the city, but those repairs will cost you. 

David klockowski already dreads getting his water bill in the mail. Month after month, his bill goes up.

“I don’t want to see my water bill get as high as my electric bill,” he said with a chuckle. 

The thought of it going higher concerns him.

“Everyone needs a little more money in their pocket,” he added.

On Thursday, St. Petersburg leaders have a big decision on their hands: How to pay for $326 million in improvements. The most likely scenario: Raising water/sewer bills across town between 10 percent and 20 percent higher for homeowners. 

For years, St. Pete only raised the rate by one or two percent. 

“While that was good for rate payers, it didn’t give us enough money to do the repairs we should be doing now we are trying to play catch up,” said Claude Tankersley with St. Pete Public Works.

They’ve got a lot of catching up to do. To avoid the mess we saw last summer when nearly 200 million gallons of sewage spilled into Tampa Bay and various neighborhoods, St. Pete leaders need to upgrade sewage plants, thousands of pipes and manholes. 

Tankersley explained, “It's just like with your car, it’s $30 each time you get your oil change and that’s not too bad but you go 2-3 years and all of a sudden something breaks, now it’s hundreds of dollars.”

St. Pete homeowners Thomas Begely and Casandra Vincinguerra aren’t thrilled about paying more every month, but they’re willing to pay just about anything to avoid another sewage spill. 

“You have to pay for the sewer system this is the way to do it,” Begely explained. 

“It needs improvement, bottom line,” Vincinguerra chimed in. 

St. Pete will vote on the increase this Thursday, July 14, you could see your water bill go up by January.