PANAMA CITY Fla. (WMBB) — Panama City Commissioners are talking about a utility rate increase.
For the second year in a row, they’re considering a hike on water and sewer rates. In less than two weeks the city commission will host a public hearing to discuss the increase.
Panama City Assistant City Manager Jared Jones said that’s when the vote will happen.
“Water and wastewater rates along with solid waste rates were under review this year,” Jones said. “Typically we only review those every five years but because of the impacts to the systems from the storm our commission decided it was wise for us to review that again this year.”
Last year the city raised solid waste, or garbage collection, rates by 15 percent. That won’t change this year.
Water and sewer rates went up by two dollars and 31 cents last year. They could go up again. The city says this is due to the impacts of Hurricane Michael.
“We saw a lot of customers leave the system,” Jones said. “Prior to the storm, we were built on a certain number of users to that system and we lost 1400 water customers.”
If the city commission does approve this water rate increase at the public hearing Panama City residents could see a $1.35 increase per one thousand gallons of water.
City officials say the extra money will go for infrastructure repairs. They claim outside funding, like loans and grants, will only cover about 40 percent of the projects.
“This is going to help with fixing leaky water lines throughout the city fixing the potholes that created those,” Jones said. “It’s going to have a vast impact throughout the city.”
Some of the money would go to pay employees and capital equipment. A lot of vehicles are in bad shape.
Jones said this would also help the city retain its current employees and attract new ones.
The public hearing is scheduled for Monday, September 13 at 5:01 p.m. at the Bay County Government Center.