ABOVE PHOTO: Katherine Gilmore Richardson (Photo/PHL City Council)
Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson (At-Large) has released the following statement in response to the Philadelphia Water Department’s proposed rate increases for 2023 and 2024:
“I was shocked to see that after urging the Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) to use federal infrastructure dollars to help repair our City’s aging water systems during last year’s budget hearings, they have chosen to move forward with increasing rates on customers by at least 20.1 percent over the next two years. While inflation is making it more difficult to implement investments in critical infrastructure improvements, and to pay for personnel, supplies and treatment chemicals, this is not the best way to move forward, we cannot continue to raise costs on our residents when we have other options.
“Philadelphia had a $779 million fund balance at the end of the last fiscal year, and we recently put $40 million in an Inflation Reserve Fund to address operating and capital cost increases. We also have American Rescue Plan Funds available through Fiscal Year 2025. These ARPA funds are just sitting in the bank when they could be partially used to help make needed water infrastructure investments that address environmental justice and improve quality of life.
“Furthermore, we must consider last year’s property reassessment, which has been a challenge for many families. Between these increases and the increased costs of food and household goods, a 20 percent water bill increase will have a negative impact on Philadelphians – especially middle-class families who are often ineligible for assistance programs and are already struggling to get by.
“I’m calling on the Philadelphia Water Department to go back to the drawing board and come up with a fair solution that helps us meet our goal of upgrading our aging water infrastructure systems and addressing environmental justice issues without drowning Philadelphia residents in additional costs.”
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