Happening Tonight: City Council to vote on proposed Huntsville Utilities rate hike

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Huntsville City Council members will vote Thursday on two proposed rate increases for Huntsville Utilities customers.

The company has requested a $2.50 increase on the fixed monthly availability charges for all customers, beginning in May 2016. A separate increase of $1.59 would be charged to small commercial users. This increase is expected to bring in more than $4.9 million to Huntsville Utilities.

The second phase of the rate hike would be introduced in October 2016. It would include an additional $2.40 increase on the fixed monthly availability charges for residents with a separate $2.40 increase for small commercial users. This phase of the increase would also generate more than $4.9 million for the company.

Huntsville Utilities leaders said the last local rate increase happened in October of 2011, arguing that this is necessary for them to continue to grow and serve their growing customer base, while also improving services.

“Our cost is going up, but customer costs are not going up as much because they’re using LED lights and being more efficient,” said Jay Stowe, CEO of Huntsville Utilities, at a Huntsville City Council work session. “It causes a separation.” He said customers are changing behavior in a way that reduces their load factor, but the company still has expenses. Stowe said there’s been a 1.5% growth in their customer base, but only a 0.5% usage growth.

Several customers and council members opposed the increase at last week’s work session.

“I was elected to represent the wishes of my constituents, and that’s what I’m going to do on this,” said Councilman Richard Showers. “I have not had one call from someone that was for this. They’ve all been opposed.”

Both increases are proposed as two separate resolutions. Huntsville Utilities also has four other resolutions on the agenda requesting approval of nearly $500,000 worth of non-budgeted expenses, such as service and bucket trucks.

The council is scheduled to meet tonight in the City Council Chambers at 6:00. To view the full agenda for tonight’s meeting, click here.

WHNT News 19 will attend the meeting. We will continue to keep you updated on the issue.