KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The KUB board voted to approve a rate increase for water and wastewater customers on the first reading Thursday. The vote was unanimous.
KUB proposed a 5% increase for water every year for the next three years and a 4% increase for wastewater. In all, KUB said their average customer will see a $12.50 increase per month on their bills after the increases for each of the three years.
Darrin Rhines from KUB said they previously suspended rate increases because of the COVID-19 pandemic but also suspended many of their capital improvement projects.
KUB said they want to restart those improvement projects this year and they need to increase rates to do it.
"We have to catch up now where we left off," said Rhines.
Rhines said KUB is mindful of inflation and higher costs of living, so they proposed small, incremental increases.
"These increases are put in place to keep the rates on a small, but incremental, increasing basis to match what costs really are," Rhines said.
He said the utility has experienced supply chain issues, too. But these rate increases were planned before the pandemic. Rhines said the water and wastewater rate increases can only be used to fix infrastructure related to those utilities.
Those increases come at the same time the KUB Board has already approved 3% increases for electricity.
The large projects KUB is starting include fiber broadband, a water filter project that would increase capacity, an electric substation and $13.2 million for infrastructure related to the downtown stadium project.
If the KUB board approves the rate increase on its second reading in June, it will go into effect in August.