BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) – At the beginning of 2023, your water bill could be going up as the Birmingham Water Works Board is considering a 3.9% rate increase.
The board held a meeting Wednesday night to explain how that number is determined and get feedback from the community. This reflects the same rate hike that went into effect at the beginning of 2022.
Board representatives said they have your best interest in mind – considering that starting next month it’ll cost you about $10 extra a month to keep the lights on, but only about $1.55 to keep the water running.
“Of course, we’re very empathetic with a cost increase because the cost of everything has gone up,” Birmingham Water Works Public Relations Manager said. “Inflation is very real for everyone.”
For the better part of a decade, Tarrant resident Tracey Moore said she has been dealing with discolored, smelly water – yet her latest bill is up over $4,000.
“I’ve been complaining since 2013 and that’s been too long for me,” Moore said. “I’m paying too much for water, I don’t use the water. Why should I be paying for something when I can’t drink the water?”
Billing and customer service issues were a common concern by residents at Wednesday’s public hearing.
Board representatives said as the cost of business goes up, but they are not increasing their rates as much as other utilities.
“The price of a candy bar. This a month,” Jackson said. “This is what we are looking at as far as an increase and that has taken a lot of studying, a lot of trimming the fat when it comes to all of our departments and a lot of discussion. This board is very much concerned about our customers because our priority lies with our customers. That’s our number one priority.”
Resident Bill Thomaston said there is a mistrust from the public on their bills. Before considering a rate increase, he said all other problems should be addressed first especially when it comes to incorrect bills.
Birmingham Urban League President and C.E.O. William Barnes said it has been helping thousands of Birmingham Water Works customers each month pay their bills. He said it is unfortunate to see a rate increase when the billing issue still hasn’t been fixed.
Jackson said that issue is mostly resolved.
“We’re at a very good spot when it comes to billing,” Jackson said. “There is absolutely nothing wrong with our billing system. There were delays in our meter readings, however, we are happy to be where we are today, and we appreciate our customers for their patience.”
Consideration of approval of the budget will happen at the board’s next meeting on November 30. Until then, Jackson said you can call the customer service line at any time to answer any questions you may have about your bill.