La Joya will increase water and sewer rates nearly 9% in November
The city of La Joya will increase residential water and sewer rates by nearly 9% in November to pay for two major infrastructure projects.
Mayor Isidro Casanova and members of the City Council approved the rate increase during a meeting on Sept. 13. The money will allow La Joya to build new water and wastewater treatment plants.
“This is the time for us to expand and make an investment in the infrastructure,” Casanova said. “So that we can be ready and prepared for the future.”
Revenue from the rate increase will allow La Joya to build a modern wastewater treatment plant. The city still runs sewage through a series of ponds, which separates water from solids.
La Joya built the ponds, which are located between the Rio Grande and Military Highway, in 1982. They struggle whenever heavy rain sends extra water through the system and could cause an environmental disaster during a flood.
The city also needs to build a bigger water treatment plant.
La Joya built the current water treatment plant in 1998. It’s designed to treat nearly 900,000 gallons of water per day.
The city, though, is operating the plant beyond capacity.
La Joya estimated a modern wastewater treatment plant would cost about $16 million. Building a bigger water treatment plant would cost another $10.5 million.
To pay for the treatment plants, La Joya would borrow money from the Texas Water Development board, which funds infrastructure projects. La Joya would pay back the loans with revenue from higher water and sewer rates.
Under the plan, which the City Council approved on Sept. 13, utility rates will increase on Nov. 1.
The monthly bill for a residential customer who uses 5,000 gallons of water a month will jump from $52.90 to $57.61, according to an analysis prepared by Frisco-based Capex Consulting Group.
Commercial customers will also feel the pinch.
The monthly bill for a commercial customer who uses 50,000 gallons of water per month will jump from $544.10 to $610.97.
La Joya will increase utility rates again on Oct. 1, 2023 — and every October through 2026.
The City Council voted 3-2 to approve the five-year plan.
Casanova, City Councilwoman Laura Mendiola Macias and City Councilwoman Angie Garza supported the plan. City Councilman Roger Hernandez and City Councilman Esequiel “Chuck” Garza opposed it.
Hernandez said he couldn’t support the plan because many people already struggle to pay their water bills.
It’s a difficult decision, Mendiola Macias said, but La Joya can’t pay for new infrastructure without increasing rates.
“We’re in between a rock and a hard place. Because if we don’t, then we’re not going to be able to grow,” Mendiola Macias said. “So it’s either: Do we want to grow? Do we want to be able to bring in new businesses? At this point, we cannot grow without moving forward. It’s as simple as that.”
“I understand,” Hernandez said. “But by increasing water rates, you also push businesses out.”
Hernandez and Esequiel “Chuck” Garza also wanted more information before making a decision. Casanova said La Joya can’t afford to wait.
La Joya would be forced to turn away businesses, Casanova said, and stop approving new subdivisions if the city decided not to build new treatment plants.
“At the end of the day, if we do not move forward right now, we’re never going to grow,” Casanova said. “We’ll stay stagnant.”
Hmmm, where is this new plant going to be built????? Instead of raising taxes did the council look into selling bonds to pay for the project?. How about a special onetime tax on all residents then raise taxes 5% over 8 years instead of a 9% increase?
I live in a 1 bedroom apt and just got billed $200 for 26 gallons of consumption.
What did the lady say? “Oh yeah, rates just went up.”
Ummmm excuse me how is it possible for a $200 water bill for only 26 gallons? This is THEFT!!