Plans afoot to renew/replace City of Sarasota’s aging infrastructure
SARASOTA — A $298.5 million Utilities Master Plan drafted by City of Sarasota officials to replace aging pipes and other infrastructure may raise the rates on residents’ utility bills by around 50%.
The plan consists of 135 proposed projects, most of which include replacing and renewing water pipes and structures that are 30 to 100 years old. The projects would take place over 11 years at around $27 million a year.
There are two proposed payment options: pay as you go, and finance.
The first option would mean a 53% increase in monthly water and sewer bills for the average customer over 11 years. The finance option would be a 46% increase.
In the pay-as-you-go option, average rates would rise from the current $80.05 to $122.66 in fiscal year 2030. If the city were to borrow to finance the work, rates would go up to $116.87.
At the end of 11 years, the first option would result in a $3,778 total out-of-pocket increase per average customer, and the finance option results in $2,499 total out-of-pocket increase per average customer.
The pros of the pay-as-you-go route are that there would be no debt and no debt service. But it would require current rate payers to pay 100% for improvements, and there is a possibility for delay if money isn’t available.
The finance option spreads costs of the facilities to both current and future customers and leverages available funds to accomplish more in less time. One drawback is that the revenue must be used to pay interest and financing costs.