ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- St. Pete residents described themselves as frustrated and flabbergasted Thursday night knowing their utility bills could get even more expensive.
City Council members voted to move ahead to the next public meeting on August 23, where homeowners will have a second chance to weigh in on the increases.
Come October, people who live in St. Pete could be forced to pay an extra $7-$10 every month.
Judy Roy already dreads getting her utility bill in the mail. Now she worries the increases could impact her finances.
“It gives me anxiety. It’s just somewhere else you’ve got to find more dollars," Roy explained. “I can’t afford it.”
St. Pete already increased reclaimed water fees 25% last year. Now, public works leaders tell us the fee hike is needed to make more than $120 million in capital improvement projects and repairs to the city’s water and sewer systems.
Those fixes and maintenance projects should help avoid any future sewage spills. “We've done the heavy lifting on the issues from past sewage spills. These projects, by maintaining the facilities on a regular basis will prevent it from happening in the future. We are playing catch up on a lot of these projects,” explained Public Works Administrator Claude Tankersley.
ABC Action News checked around and found out St. Pete’s utility rates are already among the highest in Tampa Bay.
“It feels like you’re not able to be in control of anything. They raise it, you’ve got to pay it,” Roy said with a sigh.
Homeowner and Shore Acres Neighborhood Association President David Delrahim says he's okay with the increase, knowing how important it is to avoid any future sewage spill issues.
"The increases are unfortunately a necessary evil to fix our system," he explained.
You have one last chance to weigh in. The city will host another public meeting on August 23 at 6 p.m. at St. Pete City Hall.