Bills for water services at an 8-year low as a percentage of household income
AUSTIN – For local families struggling with rising costs for basic necessities such as groceries, gas and housing, there is one area that requires less of their annual income to pay: their Austin Water bill. The recently released 2022 Affordability Metrics Report compares affordability metrics for water rates across the country and finds that Austin Water has continued to keep rates for water and wastewater services below the target of 1.5% of median household income for the 12th consecutive year.
The report highlights Austin Water’s efforts as part of an overall strategy by the City of Austin to manage the rising cost of living. With wages steadily trending upwards year-over-year, and with no rate increases proposed for the fifth consecutive year, Austin Water customers have paid less on their water bill as a percentage of household income, now at an 8-year low of 1.21%.
“Affordability is the number one kitchen table issue for families right now,” said Assistant City Manager Gina Fiandaca. “This report highlights the great work Austin Water is doing to stabilize water rates and deliver service of great value for families of all incomes, especially for the most vulnerable among us.”
The report, which is produced annually to measure and monitor Austin Water’s affordability efforts, found that the average residential customer’s annual bill as a percentage of median household income has improved year over year since 2017. In addition, projections indicate this downward trend will continue into the future as wage increases are expected to continue to outpace future rate increases.
The report also shows that Austin Water’s customer assistance program is among the best in the country. Austin Water’s Residential Customer Assistance Program (CAP) provides CAP customers with significant discounts compared to average non-CAP residential bills for all cities surveyed. Austin Water has achieved this by providing a 51% discount to CAP customers, as well as several rate reductions since 2018. Austin Water continues to provide robust assistance to vulnerable customers through the City of Austin’s Financial Support Plus 1 Program, Arrearage Management Program, and Water Leak Repair and Home Emergency Repair Programs.
“Affordability is a guiding principle to what we do,” said Robert Goode, Interim Director of Austin Water. “As we make strategic investments in infrastructure upgrades to strengthen our system, we are also keeping an eye on affordability by securing low interest rate loans to pay for those improvements without impacting rates for customers.”
The first Affordability Metric Report was provided to Austin City Council in 2018 and set the benchmark for future analysis and evaluation of Austin Water’s efforts to improve affordability for all customers. Updates to these 5-year forecast metrics have been completed and published annually.
For more information about Austin Water’s affordability initiatives or to view the complete 2022 Affordability Metric Report, visit AustinWater.org