Water-Related News

Winter Haven commissioners debate water utility's annual rate increase

The 2.5 percent annual increase in water rates was the hottest topic discussed by city commissioners during Thursday night's workshop.

At previous meetings, commissioners expressed a desire to repeal the annual automatic 2.5 percent increase in water rates. A rate study performed by Raftelis Consulting, however, advocated keeping the increase.

One of Commissioner William Twyford's concerns is that the money taken out of the water fund isn't easily tracked.

"The problem is we don't have any policy for where it goes," Twyford said. "We just take it out and throw it to the general fund. The 2.5 percent hurts our poorest residents the worst."

In a recent letter, Fitch Ratings downgraded the city's bond rating from AA to AA-. One reason listed is related to a high transfer total from the enterprise to the general fund. Fitch also said repealing the 2.5 percent increase could hurt the city's ability to maintain the system.