City Council questions SAWS rate hikes

Members looking for more information before vote


SAN ANTONIO – City Council members asked SAWS representatives questions Wednesday about the company's 9.9% proposed rate increase for 2013.

The money would be used to clean, repair and improve the city's sewer system, which experiences numerous sewage overflows.

It is against Environmental Protection Agency regulations to have just one sewage overflow.

The increase is part of a five year plan that calls for a 55% increase in rates, which would help pay nearly $300 million for a desalinization plant and $150 million to pipe in water from the Carrizo Aquifer in Gonzales County.

"They're asking for a lot of money. And we need to make sure they've got a plan and a plan that will work and will really reduce the sewer overflows," said District 8 Councilman Reed Williams.

"I want to see a synopsis of the last two years where revenues were heavier than expected and why that hasn't been brought to our attention and how will that money be applied," said Carlton Soules, District 10 Councilman.

According to SAWS VP of Communications, Greg Flores, the company made more money in 2011 and 2012 due to higher water demand during extreme drought, but the city mandates how that money is spent.

Any funds leftover, said Flores, goes toward fixing problems like broken pipes and funding bond projects.

The council left SAWS Wednesday with questions to be answered before anyone is forced to pay up next year.

"I think its important that they, and the community, know how exactly we're spending the money we're asking for, and we're confident we can answer those questions very well," Flores said.

The council will meet again with SAWS on January 16 before members are scheduled to vote on the rate increase on January 31.

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