The Brenham City Council today (Thursday) approved a 5 percent increase in water rates for residential and commercial customers, effective October 12th.
Public Utilities Project Manager Shawn Bolenbarr said the higher water rates are meant to generate additional revenue to help support $40 million in debt payments that will come from the city’s upgrades to its water infrastructure.
Residential consumers using 5,000 gallons of water per month can expect to pay an additional $1.57, while those using 10,000 gallons will pay an extra $2.77. The minimum monthly bill will be $22.98.
For commercial customers using 50,000 gallons of water a month, their water rates will go up $10.58, and 200,000 gallon customers will pay $45.01 more on their bill.
Any future rate increases will be based on a cost-of-service study, growth in new water connections and impact fees collected from developers.
In addition to the water rate changes, the city is adjusting the water service fees tariff. Changes include:
- Raising the cost of all water service fees to half the actual cost of installing the service.
- Changing the 4-inch or larger meter connection fee from $1,300 to “at cost”.
- Removing the language for fees for taps on existing mains for the connection of new mains and the fees associated with main sizes.
- Adding language specifying that the fee for city installation of new taps on existing water mains for new water mains or fire lines will be based on actual cost of providing the service.
- Adding language dictating that the fee for installation by others – at no expense to the city – for new taps on existing water mains for the connection of new water mains or fire lines will be $100.
Also at today’s meeting, the council approved amendments to the rate tariff schedule for electricity. They do not involve any changes to rates, but rather establish a separate rate class for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, due to the city expecting more EV stations to be built.
The city retained NewGen Strategies Solution to review the city’s current rate structure as it may apply to current and future EV stations in its service area. The new rate class is so city staff can monitor the stations’ load factor and potentially implement ways to address power cost recovery, such as kilowatt demand or time of use.
The tariff would not apply to non-retail or home charging stations, or commercial charging stations established prior to the effective date of October 12th.
In other business, the council:
- Approved revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance, including changing R-1 single-family residential zoning to allow duplexes and twin homes on lots of at least 7,500 square feet, with specific use permits from the city council and Planning and Zoning Commission (the council’s vote was 5-1, with Mayor Atwood Kenjura voting against); adjusting R-2 mixed residential zoning to allow accessory dwelling units and twin homes as permitted uses and including parameters for twin home and townhome developments; deleting information on noise regulations that duplicates or contradicts the noise nuisance ordinance; and removing provisions that allow conditions to be placed upon variance requests. The council took no action on another item clarifying the definition of food truck sites to prohibit the storage of food trucks on residential property, as city staff said they needed to go back and look at mobile kitchen and trailer storage of all types within residential districts.
- Passed an ordinance to create a reinvestment zone for commercial tax phase-in at 209 South Market Street. The location is being modernized to become The Southern Folly, an entertainment and meeting venue and bar in downtown Brenham. The total capital investment is estimated at $185,000, and there are expected to be 10 employees.
- Accepted a bid from TGS Sports for $1,096,470 for a project to convert four softball infields to turf at Hohlt Park. The funding comes exclusively from Brenham Community Development Corporation (BCDC) sales tax revenue generated in 2022-23.
- Approved the second reading of the city’s $89.5 million budget and property tax rate of $0.4584 per $100 valuation for the new fiscal year.
- Approved an amendment to the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) agreement for engineering services for water and wastewater projects. The amendment removes a program for lead and copper management from the professional services agreement with Strand Associates, changing the total value from $177,000 to $159,500.
- Approved an amendment to the professional services agreement with Strand Associates related to 2022 sanitary sewer improvements. The amendment removes wording related to construction and only reference design work for the Industrial Boulevard lift station, changing the value of the agreement from $379,000 to $355,600.
- Formally appointed Robin Hutchens as deputy city secretary.