EL PASO, Texas -- Rates for El Paso Water customers will go up starting March 1. Typical residential customers will see a monthly rate increase of $1.37.
On Wednesday, the El Paso Public Service Board approved the utility company's Water, Wastewater and Stormwater budgets, a combined total of $508 million for fiscal year 2021-2022.
“Our financial plan did call for a five percent increase to our water and wastewater rates," said Christina Montoya-Halter, a spokeswoman for El Paso Water. But with the financial difficulties for it's customers in mind, "our team and our CEO and the board acknowledged that we need to scale back a little bit."
Instead, only increasing the budget by two percent for water/wastewater and slightly increasing the storm water rate for the first time in about five years.
Montoya-Halter said delaying this increase would've meant larger rate increases in the future.
"We've found, and gotten feedback from customers that it's much better to do small incremental rate increases to be able to pay for keeping a sustainable water supply and services for a community," she said.
The only one to oppose the budget increases was Mayor Oscar Leeser.
"We're in the middle of the pandemic," Leeser said. "A lot of businesses are struggling with their budget, some homeowners are struggling with their budgets and it's very important that we continue to not go up on a lot of our rates on utilities."
El Paso Water said it had helped more than 2,000 customers pay their water bills thanks to $500,000 in CARES Act funding along with monies from Project Amistad and Project Bravo.
The utility said it is also setting up payment plans for customers who haven’t been able to pay their bills on time because of Covid-19.
Both El Paso Water officials and Mayor Leeser said they hope more federal funding will become available to help customers.
In the below video player you can watch the entire board meeting and see complete budget breakdowns.