Published April 28. 2021 11:57AM
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved a 8.4 percent water rate increase for City of Bethlehem water customers. The last water rate increase occurred in 2014.
While the rate increase is needed and justified in order to cover the ever-increasing operating and maintenance expenses of the water system and to ensure the long term financial stability of the water fund, Mayor Robert Donchez has directed his administration to review the time frame for implementing the new rates in light of recent economic and financial news. Donchez said he believes it is prudent to take into consideration the impact the rate increase may have on the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic stimulus funding the city will receive from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. As such, the mayor will advocate for a strategic plan with regard to city finances.
It is important to remember that the process of applying for the rate increase began in 2019, prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The City of Bethlehem is committed to providing high quality drinking water to all customers at a cost that is fair and reasonable. This commitment involves maintaining a water system that is safe, reliable, and that meets or exceeds all regulatory requirements. It also means being able to raise adequate capital to invest in our aging infrastructure.
Ultimately, the approved rate increase is needed and will be implemented at the appropriate time. Rates provide the only long-term revenue stream to adequately cover operating and maintenance expenses and provide for ongoing capital investment in the aging water system. Continuous reinvestment in infrastructure is critical to ensure reliability and delivery of high quality water customers have come to expect.
Originally Appeared On: https://www.tnonline.com/20210428/puc-approves-water-rate-increase/