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A new set of rates and fees is set to hit Austin utility customers. Here's why.

An Austin Energy electrical station in southeast Austin, TX on June 25, 2021.
Gabriel C. Pérez
New rates and fees will go into effect for Austin residents in the next several weeks.

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Austin residents might have noticed a slight increase in their utility fees this month. That's because a new set of rates and fees has gone into effect, making it just a little more expensive to live here.

When the City Council approved its annual budget that began Oct. 1, it included an increase in taxes and rate and fee changes.

Among the changes are fees for electricity, water and trash. These fees are evaluated each year to ensure the utilities are collecting enough money to run the department, city officials said.

But the increases are coming on the heels of inflation hikes on most goods, including groceries and gas, and as the cost of living for Austin residents increases.

Increase on water, electric bills

Among the largest increases is for water and electricity.

The typical Austin Energy customer will see an increase of around $2.35 a month, or about $28 for the year, according to Austin Energy officials. That kicks in Nov. 1.

Austin Energy spokesperson Matt Mitchell said the additional money will help pay for the community benefits programs, like customer assistance and energy efficiency programs.

The customer assistance program gives discounts to low-income residents. He said Austin Energy has added more than 35,000 customers to the program.

"Austin Energy, at the direction of the Austin City Council, has made great strides in expanding our customer assistance program," Mitchell said.

But the energy rate change also includes an increase to the flat-rate monthly fee that was approved by the City Council last year. The fee will increase $1 for every customer, except those in the assistance program.

“The utility had to overhaul how it recouped costs to the run utility,” Mitchell said. “We had to figure out how to do these rates differently so we are bringing our customers closer to what it takes to provide them with energy.”

Water fees also increased about $2.65 per month, or $31.80 for the year, for the typical customer, according to Austin Water officials. Those rate increases will also begin Nov. 1.

Like much of the nation, Austin Water spokesperson Erik Luna said, the utility has been impacted by rising costs for supplies.

“The overall cost of chemicals and materials critical to our work has steadily increased,” Luna said. “This modest rate increase is necessary to keep up with rising costs and will allow Austin Water to make investments in service reliability and water quality for our growing region despite the increasing impacts due to climate change.”

That's not all

Fees also went up for Austin Resource Recovery services, which include recycling, compost and trash collection, as well as bulk and brush collection.

Paul Bestgen, a spokesperson with Austin Resource Recovery, said the typical customer will see an increase of around $1.65 per month.

“The result in rate increases are due to the continued inflation we are seeing and additional pressures that are happening nationwide, but that every business and city government is experiencing," he said.

Utility bills also include a clean community fee and a drainage utility fee, both of which saw slight upticks. A transportation user fee remained the same.

Homeowners will also see an increase in their tax bills. Although the city’s overall tax rate decreased by 1.69 cents per $100 of valuation, tax bills will still increase because property values continue to rise.

Combining rates, fees and taxes, the typical resident will see an increase of about $14 per month or $172 per year, according to the city's tax impact statement.

Luz Moreno-Lozano is the Austin City Hall reporter at KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @LuzMorenoLozano.
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