To pay for water and sewage treatment plants, La Joya can raise utility rates – Progress Times
The town of La Joya may raise water tariffs in October to pay for two major infrastructure projects.
In a Wednesday afternoon meeting, the city council discussed water rates with Jeff Snowden, owner of Frisco-based Capex Consulting Group.
Snowden told city council that La Joya could not afford to build a new sewage treatment plant and a new water treatment plant without raising rates. He presented the city council with a proposal to increase water rates on October 1 – and every October until 2026.
“For this to be understandable, you watch about one Whataburger a month,” said acting city manager Leo Olivares. “Less than a Whataburger per month to invest in your community and keep growing.”
La Joya depends on two aging factories to treat water and sewage.
The city treats sewage by passing the sewage through a series of ponds, which separate the water from the solids. La Joya built the pond-based system in 1982.
Designed to treat just 350,000 gallons of wastewater per day, the treatment plant struggles every time rain sends extra water through the system.
La Joya also needs a new wastewater treatment plant.
The city built the water treatment plant in 1998, according to documents La Joya submitted to the Texas Water Development Board. It can treat nearly 900,000 gallons of water per day.
“Right now, we are beyond the capacity of our water treatment plant,” Olivares said.
La Joya estimated that a new sewage treatment plant would cost about $16 million. A new water plant would cost an additional $10.5 million.
The city, however, could not borrow the full amount without being crushed by debt repayment.
“We assume that the water development board, when they give you the loan, will cancel 70% of the loan,” Snowden said. “And you will only be required to repay 30% of the loan.”
The city also plans to use about $3.2 million left over from old bonds to pay for part of the sewage treatment plant. La Joya would cover the remaining costs by increasing water tariffs.
Residential customers who use 5,000 gallons of water per month currently pay $52.90.
According to the plan, La Joya would increase the monthly bill by an average of 6.9% each year for the next five years.
The monthly bill would rise to $57.61 in October. In 2026, the monthly bill would be $73.88.
Business customers would also pay higher rates.
A commercial customer who uses 50,000 gallons of water per month currently pays $544.10.
According to the plan, La Joya would increase the monthly bill by an average of 8.1% each year for the next five years.
The monthly bill would rise to $610.97 in October. In 2026, the monthly bill would be $800.94.
While no one wants to raise water rates, La Joya needs to replace aging infrastructure, Mayor Isidro Casanova said. The new water and wastewater plants will allow La Joya to develop.
“La Joya can no longer stagnate as it has for many, many years,” Casanova said. “It’s time for us to grow and we have to be ready for it.”