Crestview votes to increase utility bills, keep millage rate flat in new budget year

Tony Judnich
Northwest Florida Daily News

CRESTVIEW — While the city's millage rate is anticipated to stay the same in the new budget year, city water and sewer rates for residential customers will increase by 8% starting next month.

A tentative property tax rate of 6.94 mills and a total budget of more than $57 million for fiscal year 2022 received the City Council’s initial approval Tuesday in separate 4-0 votes. Councilman Joe Blocker was absent from the meeting, which was the city's first public budget hearing.

The tentative millage rate, which is the same as the existing rate, equates to $694 per $100,000 of taxable property value. Crestview's final public budget hearing is set for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 27 at City Hall. The new fiscal year starts Oct. 1.

Crestview's wastewater treatment plant is being upgraded to meet the growing needs of the city. The City Council on Monday voted 3-2 to approve an 8% hike to water and sewer rates help meet the growing costs of capital improvement projects.

In a report for the council's regular meeting on Monday, City Manager Tim Bolduc discussed the need for higher utility rates during the new budget year.

“During the 2021 year, the utility fund experienced a significant increase in the cost to complete projects on the Capital Improvement Schedule,” Bolduc said in the report. “This is represented by the bids received for the water tower currently under construction on PJ Adams (Parkway). Projects, such as the water tower and, more recently, the lift station for the Foxwood (subdivision) extension, have seen price increases as much as 100%.”

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Bolduc said the higher utility rates in the new budget year would help the city stay on track with such capital projects and maintain the current water and sewer system while keeping the city’s utility rates competitive. His findings were backed by a utility rate analysis conducted for the city earlier this year by Dallas-based Jacobs Engineering Group Inc.

The council voted 3-2 Monday to approve the 8% rate increases. The two votes in opposition were cast by Blocker and Councilwoman Cynthia Brown, both of whom favored 6% increases.

Previously:Major wastewater wetland site in Crestview could double as nature hub

Currently, the combined monthly water and sewer bill for a household that uses about 7,000 gallons of water per month amounts to $67.39. With the 8% rate increases, the total monthly bill would rise to $72.78. Neither amount includes tax.

According to a chart provided by Crestview officials, the combined monthly water and sewer bill for a similar type of residential customer of Destin Water Users is $75.81. The bill for a residential customer of Okaloosa County is $86.53 and the bill a residential customer of Fort Walton Beach is $95.61.