City Council approves budget, rate increases

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The Austin City Council voted to approve increased water and energy rates at its annual budget meeting Tuesday.

The council began reading the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget Monday and adopted the $3.5 billion budget after two days of discussion. The council voted to approve an ordinance authorizing new fees, fines and other charges for the new fiscal year. These changes will take effect Oct. 1.

Councilwoman Kathie Tovo voted against the Austin Water Utility rate changes. Austin Water proposed raising monthly rates by $9.79 for a residential customer who uses an average of 7,000 gallons of water — a 12 percent increase.

“I don’t have the exact figures, but the people who use the least amount of water will see a 20 percent and up increase in their bill,” Tovo said. “It doesn’t seem fair. People who are doing a good job, and conserving and using the least amount of water get the biggest increase. Anyone who pays their own water will be affected.”

Tovo hoped the council would consider adopting another water rate proposal later.

The City Council also approved using $78 million for spending on property purchases and other projects.