ST. JAMES - St. James residents will likely see a 6 percent increase in electric rates over the next two years, city officials say.
City Administrator Jeff Davis told the City Council Monday night that the increase is the city's way of "lessening the impact" with the rising cost of utilities.
The city has raised its rates only twice in the last several years, first in October 2009 and again in March 2013.
The first increase of 3 percent will take effect in June, with the additional 3 percent following next year.
At 3 percent, the increase equals $3 per every $100.
"We needed to do a 3 percent increase to not fall short again in 2014," Davis said. "[The Mayor] and I and the council pretty much agree that it's best to incrementally raise rates than to raise them at 15 and 20 percent at a time."
Davis said the proposal for the rate increase will be brought before the Utility Board this month. It will then be placed on the agenda for the City Council to approve in May.
The increase will reflect on utility bills in August.
The Council on Monday approved the city's utilities budget, which totaled $8,237,740.46 in revenues and $8,004,378.38 in expenses.
The remaining balance of roughly $233,000 will go into a reserve fund, according to City Clerk Sarah Wheeler. budget increased from about $7.4 million last year.
The primary purpose for increasing rates is to cover the city's debt service.
Utilities such as water, gas and electric operate autonomously as enterprise funds, but you can borrow from one to cover a shortage in another with approval from the City Council.