Gasparilla Island Water Authority (GIWA) members will have a rate increase of five percent beginning Oct. 1, 2023, and future rate increases would be able to be approved administratively by the county manager of Lee County, rather than having to be approved at full Board of County Commissioners meetings.
On Tuesday, Sept 5 the Lee County Board of County Commissioners voted to allow for annual rate increases not to exceed the annual Consumer Price Index. The resolution also provided for county manager and administrative approval of future cost of living increases. The measure passed unanimously, with a motion for approval by Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, seconded by Commissioner Kevin Ruane.
The rate increase, which had been approved May 3 by the GIWA Board of Directors before being sent to Lee County, would increase the rate only as much as the CPI. The year over year CPI increase from March 2022 to March 2023 was five percent.
The March 2021 to 2022 countrywide CPI was over eight percent, but the GIWA increase was only eight percent, said GIWA Executive Director Ronald Bolton.
If there were no actual changes to CPI, GIWA would have to go back to the county to approve any rate increase, Bolton said.
GIWA has a franchise from Lee County to operate the water and sewer systems on Boca Grande. The resolution allowed annual rate increases to be approved by the county manager or his designee.
GIWA members voted 457 to 48 on Jan. 18, 2022 to allow for annual rate increases not to exceed the CPI.
According to the resolution, the average household uses five thousand gallons of water and wastewater each month. Based on this usage, they calculate that the average bill for a GIWA member would increase by $6.49 a month, from $129.90 to $136.39.