Frustrated With Water Costs, Officials Look Into Better Rates

Wilton Manors officials aren’t satisfied with the water and sewage rates paid to Fort Lauderdale.

To try and get them lower, they’ll be taking steps to negotiate better rates.

Finance Director Bob Mays says the city will pay $55,000 to create a water and storm water master plan so the city can have a more accurate view of the true cost of water and sewer services. The city will pay $4,800 to Chen & Associates to assist with negotiations and $25,000 to analyze Fort Lauderdale’s rate methodology, which he called “flawed.”

Mays said the city would also be reaching out to Oakland Park officials in an attempt to band together during any upcoming negotiations. “Strength in numbers,” said Mays. Oakland Park also gets its water from Fort Lauderdale.

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“We need to know what our options are,” said Mayor Gary Resnick. He suggested looking into legal ways of lowering the rate, an idea that resident Paul Kuta suggested during the public hearing. “Again, I believe that we need to legally negotiate lower rates for our water supply and sewage treatment,” said Kuta.

The current 20-year sewage contract with Fort Lauderdale expires in 2021 and the 25-year water contract expires in 2030. According to Mays, Fort Lauderdale sets its rate for Wilton Manors at the same level it does condo users.

The water and sewer fees, based on consumption, range from $4.23 per 1,000 gallons to $6.46 per $1,000 gallons. The fixed base rates set by Wilton Manors ranges from $14.48 to $147.55 for sewage and $33.80 to $344.75 for water. City officials say they try and charge Wilton Manors residents no more than it required to pay for the service.

City officials have long complained about Fort Lauderdale’s rates. Part of that complaint is that Wilton Manors maintains its own water and sewer infrastructure and it costs nothing, beyond supplying the water, to Fort Lauderdale for providing those services.

Bordered by Fort Lauderdale to the south, east and west and Oakland Park to the north, Wilton Manors has to purchase water and sewage services from its bigger neighbor. It’s possible the city could contract with Broward County but that would require hooking into the county’s system – an option that could become very expensive. Mays said he would look into that possibility.

 


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