Agua SUD rate hike hearings delayed by a month

PALMVIEW — Public hearings on the increase of water and sewer rates by the Agua Special Utility District, the first of which was expected to be held this week, have been delayed a month to allow more time to notify the public.

Agua SUD, which provides water and sewer to cities in Western Hidalgo County, will hold three public hearings on a proposal to increase their rates beginning next month.

The hearings will be held on Feb. 4, March 4 and April 1 at 6 p.m. at their offices in Palmview.

The first hearing was initially scheduled for Jan. 14 but was delayed to allow time to advertise the meetings in the newspaper, General Manager Jose E. “Eddie” Saenz told the board on Monday.

In a public notice published in The Monitor on Saturday, the utility district stated any customer had the right to appear at the hearings and present evidence for or against the amendment to their rates.

The proposal would raise the existing sewer rates by approximately $1.08 each year for five years, bringing them to a $26.24 monthly rate by 2023 for residential customers.

The minimum monthly charge for water consumption would also increase for five years. The increases would range from approximately 25 cents every year for five years to 78 cents every year for five years, depending on the size of the meters.

The figures were presented to the Agua SUD board by Jeff Snowden of Capex Consulting Group during a November board meeting.

The need to raise rates was to get ahead of their expenses which grew at 4 percent per year, Snowden told the board, adding that their revenues only grew at 3 percent per year.

If rates were to remain the same, the utility district would be able to operate with a positive cash flow until 2023 when they would start to have deficits.