A consumer advocate on Monday denounced the Philadelphia Water Department’s request to boost its rates 28.5 percent over the next four years following three years of rate increases that outpaced inflation.
“A 30 percent increase is just not reasonable in today’s economy,” Thu B. Tran, a lawyer for Community Legal Services Inc., said at the first of five public hearings that the water department is holding on its $316 million rate increase.
The city says it needs the rate increase to cover higher costs of operating the utility, including its storm water management system, and that its rates are still lower than those paid by suburban customers served by investor-owned utilities.
But the advocate protested that the increases are based on unproven estimates and financial forecasts.
The city’s proposal would increase rates an average of 6.5 percent a year for each of the next four years, raising a typical homeowner’s bill $196 a year over today’s rate. The last of four proposed increases would go into effect on July 1, 2015.