Birmingham Water Works customers react to a potential 8.3% rate hike in 2023

Published: Sep. 28, 2022 at 9:46 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - If you’re a Birmingham Water Works customer, you may soon see a significant jump in your bill.

The Water Works board is considering raising your rates by an average of 8.3% for next year and it could be an even higher rate for some households.

“That is kind of a steep increase,” Customer Andrew Webber said. “I wouldn’t exactly enjoy paying that out of pocket.”

The proposed 8.3% rate increase is nearly double the rate increase from last year.

“That is pretty high, it doesn’t sit right,” Customer McKenzie Foxall said. “I would try and consider using less water, doing less loads of laundry or things like that.”

Some households that use a lot of water could pay up to a 19% increase, depending on the BWWB’s tiered rate structure.

“It would make it more difficult in terms of everything else already going up, so if water goes up too, we may have less money for groceries or gas and stay home more,” Customer Juan Granados said.

The proposed rate increase is a part of the board’s attempt to raise next year’s budget by almost 11%. They are asking for $128 million, even though they project a nearly 3% decrease in demand for water.

After overcharging some customers earlier this year, Jefferson County Commissioner Shelia Tyson said she doesn’t know how they could justify this type of increase.

“The customers have yet to get a bill that has been correct in a whole year,” Tyson said. “With an increase, that is not going to help them at all. They have not adjusted the bills enough to justify any type of increase.”

BWW said the new budget would include looking at automated meter readers, replacing old pipe, and hiring more employees. But, customers said with a rate hike that high, they want more.

“If they are able to actually improve their facilities using the revenue that comes from this increase, then that makes sense,” Granados said. “However, if they just use it to make more money for themselves and not give back to the people in any way with improved water quality, then that’s not worth it.”

“I want an itemized budget on what exactly are you going to do with the raise that you’re getting from the rate payers,” Tyson said.

The proposed rate hike is still being vetted by the board and won’t likely be voted on until late November.

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