Higher water and sewer rates coming for Panama City Beach residents in 2023

·2 min read

PANAMA CITY BEACH — Residents will pay more for water and sewer rates next fiscal year.

The City Council on Thursday approved a 1% hike for water rates and a 4% hike for sewer rates that will go into effect Oct.1 at the start of the 2023 fiscal year. This means a household using a standard 6,000 gallons of water per month will pay 26 cents more each month for water and $1.19 more each month for sewer.

While the increases are not drastic, Mary Coburn, a member of the council, said she does not believe they are appropriate amid ongoing inflation. Coburn was the lone member who voted against the increases.

The City Council on Thursday approved a 1% hike for water rates and a 4% hike for sewer rates that will go into effect Oct.1 at the start of the 2023 fiscal year.
The City Council on Thursday approved a 1% hike for water rates and a 4% hike for sewer rates that will go into effect Oct.1 at the start of the 2023 fiscal year.

"I get it, the city has rising costs, but I feel that our citizens have just been bombarded between our electric bills, cost of food and cost of gas for our vehicles," Coburn said. "I just don't think they need another increase.

"I know the city needs the money, but I don't feel like the people need an increase. It's a Catch-22"

Aggressive budget: Panama City Beach's proposed 2023 utility budget is 85% larger, includes rate hikes

PCB Council: approves record $73 million general fund budget without cutting library funds

Even with the increases, Panama City Beach still will boast the lowest water and sewer rates in Bay County.

The rates were approved two weeks after officials voted Sept. 8 in favor of the city's $78.447 million utility budget for fiscal year 2023. This is about 85% more than the fiscal year 2022 budget of $42.417 million.

Breaking downs the costs

More than 80% of the budget comes from water and sewer fees paid by residents. The rest is funded by additional sources, including impact fees and grants to PCB. Of the total utility fund, about 55% will go to sewer expenses, 41% will go to water expenses and 4% will pay existing debts.

In the sewer portion, a staggering 77% will be spent on capital improvement projects, with 13% covering operating costs and 10% paying department employees.

In the water portion, 50% will be spent on capital improvement projects, with 39% covering operating costs and 11% paying department employees.

Officials have said the 2023 budget increase was sparked by multiple upcoming capital improvement projects, many of which involve relocating water and sewer lines in areas slated for construction related to either the Front Beach Road Community Redevelopment Area Plan or the Florida Department of Transportation.

Along with three major segments of the CRA scheduled to break ground in 2023, FDOT plans to begin widening areas of Panama City Beach Parkway (Back Beach Road) from four to six lanes.

"Our staff has a lot of projects on their books that are slated to move forward to help us meet demand," Coburn said.

This article originally appeared on The News Herald: Panama City Beach approves hikes for water, sewer rates in 2023