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6 Investigates: The hidden fee in your water bill

Posted: 5:02 PM, Aug 20, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-20 19:39:55-04

About 10,000 utility customers are seeing inaccurate bills, lately, because of problems with the city’s enterprise billing platform.  

But, in our reporting into that problem, we’ve found another issue: it’s that ratepayers are paying a hidden fee, month-in, month-out, on their utility bills.

And, some city council members say it’s time to change things.

Councilman Greg Smith says it’s called a “storm water fee,” and its buried in the city’s published water rates. He says the money is used to pay to build and maintain drainage ditches, storm water sewers and underground pipes that help drain the city when it rains.

The only problem? No one seems to know exactly how much it is. But, it’s a money-maker.

Smith says the city earns about $30 million annually from it.  

“Nine out of ten people would not realize that they’re paying storm water fees on their water bill,” he says. 

Both Smith and fellow council member Debbie Lindsey-Opel say the city should consider breaking the storm water fee out, so people can see what they’re paying.