Mar 24, 2023 - Politics

Ask Axios: Why Richmond utility rates are increasing

Illustration of Richmond City Hall with lines radiating from it.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

We took reader questions about the items in Mayor Levar Stoney’s proposed budget.

Question: Why is Stoney proposing increasing city gas, water and wastewater rates?

Answer: Stoney is proposing an 8% increase in utility rates, which the city estimates would cost the average residential customer $106 a year.

  • His administration pointed to two main factors during a meeting with city council members this week.

First, water usage is going down as people conserve more water. But city officials say the cost of providing water service is more or less fixed, regardless of how much flows from the treatment plant into your home.

  • So, with apologies to anyone who has tried to conserve water to lower their bill, the city says it has to raise rates to compensate for usage going down.

Second, the city says the cost of doing business is increasing.

  • Stoney’s budget includes across-the-board salary increases, including for the utility department, in an attempt to fill empty positions.
  • And the cost of essential raw materials has in some cases more than doubled. Officials noted the cost of two chemicals the city uses to treat water has doubled.

Of note: Officials said the department's billing problems and uncollected bills are not a factor in the increases.


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