By PlanetLaundry staff | Oct 22, 2009
Hollywood city commissioners have scaled back increases for water
rates, in an about-face meant to rescue businesses whose bills went
through the roof after officials boosted rates this past summer.
In June, commissioners approved a water and wastewater rate hike
that translated to a noticeable increase for homeowners – but a bigger
wallop for water-intensive businesses such as coin laundries.
Owners of self-service laundry businesses complained that higher
rates would force them to raise prices, potentially prompting the
residents who rely on them to head to a neighboring town – and
ultimately threatening the livelihood of their businesses.
“Now the business is going down and the rate of the water is going
up,” said S. George Deeb, owner of Swifty Laundromat. “At this
direction we cannot survive.”
Silver Coin Laundry Mat's monthly bill skyrocketed from about $2,344
to $4,359 when the rates increased, city officials said. Under the new
rate structure, the bill will drop to $3,220.
The outcry from business owners prompted city officials to take a
second look. On Wednesday, commissioners unanimously approved a new
rate structure that still raises rates but at a lesser amount than
previously approved. Commissioners are expected to ratify the vote
For the average homeowner, the monthly water and wastewater bill
earlier this year was $44.90. After commissioners approved the new rate
in June, it rose to $61. Now, under the new rate structure, that will
drop to $59.
The water fee hike came on top of an increase in the annual fire fee
by $50 and an increase of about six percent in the tax rate, both
approved in September. Such hikes were not uncommon in South Florida,
as local governments raised fees or slashed services to respond to
falling property values.
Commissioners expressed sympathy for businesses, but said the city
needs to raise rates to generate money to pay for more than $200
million in upgrades to Hollywood's aging infrastructure.