CLEARWATER — Most Pinellas County Utilities’ customers won’t notice a change in the cost of water on their bills after Oct. 1. But those with larger meter sizes will.

County commissioners adopted new retail water rates for fiscal years 2020-2023 at a May 21 public hearing. Although the rates are part of multi-year plan, they will be approved again annually.

There will be no change in the volumetric rate per 1,000 gallons, which will remain at $5.13, and the base rate for Utilities customers with a 3/4-inch meter will stay at $6.80 all four years. The majority of customers have a 3/4-inch meter. The current base rate for all customers is now $6.80.

The base rate for customers with a 1-inch meter will increase to $9.35 in October 2020, followed by a hike to $11.90 in FY 2021, $14.45 in FY 2022 and $17 in FY 2023.

For customers with a 1.5-inch meter the base rate in FY 2020 will be $13.60, increasing the next year to $20.40, and then $27.20 and $34.

Customers with a 2-inch meter will pay a base rate of $18.70 in 2020, then $30.60 in FY 2021, with a hike to $42.50 the next year, followed by an increase to $54.40.

For 3-inch meters, the base rate will go up to $32.30 next year, to $57.89 in FY 2021, then $83.30 and $108.80.

Customers with 4-inch meters will have a new base rate of 47.60 in FY 2020, then $88.40 in FY 2021, followed by a hike the next year to $129.20 and then $170.

For 6-inch meters, the base rate is increasing to $90.10, then $173.40, $256.70 and $340. For customers with 8-inch meters, the base rate will be $141.10 next year, then $275.40, $409.70 and $544.

The volumetric rate for wholesale customers per 1,000 gallons will be $4.1742 in FY 2020, $4.2159 in FY 2021, $4.2591 in FY 2022 and $4.3007 in FY 2023.

Sewer rates

The base charge per month for retail sewer customers, which includes single-family residences, multiple-family residences and mobile homes, will be $14.96 in FY 2020, $16.38 in FY 2021, $17.94 in FY 2022 and $19.64 in FY 2023.

The volumetric rate per 1,000 gallons will start at $5.46 in FY 2020 and increase each of the remaining three years to $5.90, $6.55 and $7.17.

Commercial customers, which include hotels and motels, will pay the same rates as retail customers.

Unmetered residential and commercial customers will pay the same base rates; however, the volumetric rates are higher, starting at $28.30 in FY 2020, $29.90 in FY 2021, $32.75 in FY 2022 and $35.85 in FY 2023.

The wholesale sewer volumetric rate per 1,000 gallons will be $4.7139 in FY 2020, going up to $5.1617, $5.6521 and $6.1890.

Reclaimed water rates

Retail reclaimed water rates depend on whether customers are on a funded or unfunded system. A funded system is one in which the distribution system (pipelines) were paid for by a developer or other source. These customers do not pay an availability charge.

Rates are also different depending on whether or not customers are on a metered system. Utilities will be working toward increasing the number of customers on a metered system in the future.

Approximately 95% of reclaimed water customers are on an unfunded system, meaning they pay a $7 availability fee, and they are un-metered. Those customers currently pay $23 a month based on the use of 20,000 gallons, including the availability fee.

In FY 2020, those customers will pay $1.50 more each month and continue to see increases of $1.50 each year through 2023. Customers will pay $24.50 for 20,000 gallons a month in FY 2020, $26 the following year, then $27.50 and $29.

A small number of customers on the funded, metered system will see an increase from $23.20 a month for 20,000 gallons to $29.35, which remains constant for the four years. No other customers will experience increases.

The cost to connect to the system is going up. It will be $17.50 in FY 2020, $19 in FY 2021, $20.50 in FY 2022 and $22 in FY 2023.

A consultant conducted a rate study to make sure Utilities was generating sufficient revenue to meet its financial obligations. That consultant recommended the water, sewer and reclaimed water rate increases.

In 2015, the same consultant, Stantec, conducted a study that resulted in a four-year plan of rate increases similar to the one adopted by the commission on May 21.

Suzette Porter is TBN’s Pinellas County editor. She can be reached at sporter@tbnweekly.com.