August 29, 2012 by Sarah M
By Nick Halter
Mayor R.T. Rybak has taken plenty of criticism over the past few years for increasing property taxes in Minneapolis. Those tax hikes have been well documented.
But what about utility fees under the third-term mayor?
When Rybak took office in 2002, the average Minneapolis household was paying $641 a year for water, sewer and trash removal. Under his proposed 2013 budget, that same house will pay $1,040 for the same services, an increase of 62 percent.
Water costs have gone from $181 a year to $340 a year. Garbage and recycling has gone from $213 a year to $296 a year. Finally, sewer and storm water has gone from $219 a year to $404 a year.
Rybak this year is proposing a 2.5 percent increase in utility fees. On average, he has increased utility fees by 4.5 percent per year during his tenure.
If city utility fees had stayed on par with inflation over the past decade, they would cost the average family $816 in 2013, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics.
Rybak’s spokesman, John Stiles, gave three explanations for the increased costs.
- “Exploding” pensions obligations for public employee retirement funds that were closed before Rybak took office.
- Deferred maintenance in water and sewer infrastructure that Stiles said had been ignored in the years prior to Rybak’s election. Stiles said Rybak’s budgets have invested in those improvements.
- Increased fees from the Met Council for inflow and infiltration that were imposed on Minneapolis and other cities “in order to pay for exurban sprawl, which amounts to an unfunded mandate that Minneapolis has strongly objected to,” Stiles said.