Gilbert residents would see monthly utility bills jump by more than $50 under proposal

Dec 4, 2023, 11:17 AM

Water flows from a kitchen faucet in a stock image. The Gilbert Town Council approved a notice of i...

The Gilbert Town Council approved a notice of intent to charge more for water and waste services at a meeting Nov. 28, 2023. (Pexels Photo)

(Pexels Photo)

PHOENIX – Gilbert officials are considering utility rate and fee hikes that would inflate residents’ monthly bills by an average of about $25 next year and over $50 by 2026.

The Gilbert Town Council approved a notice of intent to charge more for water and waste services at a meeting last week.

“Aging infrastructure, the Colorado River shortage and the change in water quality coming into our community have created significant challenges, but Gilbert is committed to protecting our town’s ability to treat and deliver clean, safe and reliable drinking water to residents and businesses,” the East Valley suburb said in a press release Thursday.

“Critical improvement projects, like the reconstruction of the North Water Treatment Plant, are already underway while other essential projects are just beginning. Ongoing inflation and cost escalation have impacted and/or delayed these projects, leading to the proposal for utility rate increases.”

How much would Gilbert water, waste bills go up under plan?

The average residential cost for solid waste/recycling services and water would rise from $53.03 to $78.55 next year and reach $107.55 by 2026, according to presentation material prepared by town staff.

The plan would increase the fee for solid waste and recycling services for most of the town’s residential customers from the current $19.03 to $27.55 in 2024, a 44% one-time jump.

The proposed water rate hike is even more severe. The council considered three options before choosing to pursue a 135% increase to be phased in over three years.

What water rate options were considered?

The average Gilbert residence currently spends $34 for water. Under the chosen option, that would rise incrementally to $51 next year, $64 in 2025 and $80 in 2026.

Water bills vary by househould. Customers can use the town’s online calculator to see how the proposal would affect them.

The phased-in plan combines cash and bond funding, with $80 million in new debt and $43 million in anticipated interest over 20 years.

The Town Council, by a narrow 4-3 vote, considered it the least painful of the three options presented by Gilbert staff.

An all-cash option favored by some council members would have avoided new debt, but it would have required residents to absorb a 130% average monthly increase for water, from $34 to $78, all at once next year.

Town staff also presented a bond-funded option that would have resulted in a one-time bill increase to $66. But that would come with a whopping $205 million in new debt, with $110 million in anticipated interest over 20 years.

When can Gilbert residents expect to see larger utility bills?

The Town Council is scheduled to vote on the rate hikes following a public hearing at its Feb. 6 meeting.

If the plan is approved, the waste and recycling fee increase and the first water rate hike would go into effect April 4.

The ensuing water rate increases would go into effect in April in 2025 and 2026.

Residents and businesses can learn more about the proposal during an open house in the Heritage Room of Gilbert Town Hall (50 E. Civic Center Drive) on Jan. 24, 2024. The event will be livestreamed on Gilbert’s YouTube channel.

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Gilbert residents would see monthly utility bills jump by more than $50 under proposal